Councilman: Kapiolani Blvd. contraflow creates more problems than it solves

Councilman: Kapiolani Blvd. contraflow creates more problems than it solves
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On weekdays, Kapiolani Boulevard's afternoon contraflow stretches from Ward Avenue to McCully Street.

Within that span are eight intersections where left turns are prohibited, making it hard for town-bound drivers to go makai.

"How are they getting there now? They gotta go right and come back around and do a loop through the smaller streets," said City Councilman Trevor Ozawa said. "The smaller streets aren't created to bear that load."

He wants the city to end the contraflow in the afternoon or modify it to allow left turns.

City Transportation Department acting Director Mark Garrity, though, said the left turn ban accomplishes two things.

"It does make the street safer because you have multiple lanes of traffic that people are trying to cross over when they do turn left, and then it also speeds up the traffic," he said.

Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the University of Hawaii's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, thinks there's a compromise to be found.

He said the contraflow could be shortened and altered.

"I think we have to develop a round-about plan for designated left turns to be able to go makai," he said.

Engineers of a recent contraflow study for the city recommend the Kapiolani contraflow remain as is. But Garrity said the survey's focus is narrow and the city is considering options to ease left turn restrictions.

"Through signage or other types of signaling, we may be able to allow people to turn right and then left on a side street and then cross the street," he said.

Ozawa added, "What I do know for sure is that people are driving unsafely in the afternoon trying to get to Ala Moana and Waikiki. Drivers are frustrated."

He introduced a resolution urging the city to act swiftly on the issue before more high-rises are built in Kakaako, putting more drivers on Kapiolani Boulevard searching for the shortest route to get home.

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