Pearl City/Aiea residents demand answers from transportation officials

Pearl City / Aiea residents demand answers from transportation officials

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents and business owners in Pearl City and Aiea are fed up with the seemingly never-ending construction projects causing daily traffic nightmares along the roadways.

Kamehameha Highway near Waimano Home Road is one of the places considered most impacted by the rail project because of 24/7 road closures in the already-congested area.

"It's an all day thing, so it's like morning till night there's traffic, no matter where you go, what part of the island you're on, especially on the west sucks. It's like 8 o'clock at night and you're still stuck in traffic," said Pua Ching.

Frustrated community members got a chance to ask city transportation officials what efforts are being done to alleviate some of the congestion at a meeting at Highlands Intermediate School Tuesday night.

"What's happening right now?” one man asked.

"How long is this gonna take? How many years are we looking at?" asked a woman.

"Lights, timing of the lights, doesn't seem to be logical," said another man.

Michael Formby, the city's transportation director, says they are bringing in extra people on the weekends to work and the Traffic Management Center and they are looking at hiring a consultant.

“Look at possibly what we call ‘adaptive traffic signalization' which it automatically reads the cars, how many cars are queuing and it signals versus us doing the timing," Formby said.

Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), says they are already working on some solutions to alleviate the backlog. Plus, he says they will be mindful of motorists during the graduation season.

"When we started the 24/7 lane closures a couple months ago, the backlog almost went all the way to Pearl City Burger King near Kaahumanu Street. And thanks to the city, they actually adjusted the traffic signal timing where they reduced the backlog by maybe half to two-thirds,” Ishikawa said.

The meeting was sponsored by Pearl City elected officials, many of whom were there to ask their own questions.

"We understand the State Department of Transportation is gonna open the shoulder lane this summer on the H-1 between Aiea and Pearl City. Well my point is, if they can do it this summer, why not do it now?" asked Gregg Takayama, State Representative for the area.

The meeting was intended to be more transparent with the community. But some residents say more needs to be done.

"The businesses along Kam Highway that are not gonna be in existence anymore if you allow this to go on at this pace," said one man.

HART officials say construction at along Kamehameha Highway will last until early 2017.

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