WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Waipahu businesses say they're taking a hit from the large amount of rail construction along Farrington Highway as a 20-mile rail project makes its way from Kapolei through Waipahu towards Kamehameha Highway and the Pearl City / Aiea area.
Justin Tanioka of Tanioka's Seafood and Catering said he believes barricades along the center of Farrington Highway has blocked a main left turn lane into the parking area fronting their business, which has deterred some people from pulling into shop.
Tanioka didn't want to specify the dollar or percentage of business loss but said business is down a bit and because of that, starting August 1, the store will shift opening hours to 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. The company is also working to increase its catering operations to bring food products to customers so they don't have to fight the congestion. And Tanioka said that the catering aspect of their business is up.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 808 Automotive near Tanioka's has reportedly suffered a 20 percent loss in business since last month.
Rail officials said they are working on a temporary reopening of the left-turn lane, but after the rail guideway work is completed, concerns that columns may obstruct the view for left turns from the westbound side may force the closure of that left turn lane at the 7-Eleven for good.
Drivers can make U-turns at the main traffic signals in both directions within an estimated 100 to 200 yards nearby, and there are access points, but drivers have to be willing to make the effort, Tanioka said. He appreciates those who do, he said.
Tanioka said he and other impacted businesses will petition to get their left-turn lanes back both temporarily and permanently in the near future, but he said rail officials have indicated columns may obstruct the view of turning drivers and that it may not be able to return.
He said he would be disappointed but appreciates rail officials and Kiewit contractors doing everything they can to try and help improve the impact.
It's a similar business reaction that owners of establishments and customers along Kamehameha Highway echoed this past year during the rail construction.
Tanioka is hoping drivers in the Waiapahu area won't give up on them and that drivers in time will adjust to the road work and continue to seek out their goods and services.