Here's how an expanding UH-West Oahu could ease traffic - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Here's how an expanding UH-West Oahu could ease traffic

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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

This semester, the University of Hawaii-West Oahu has about 3,000 students at its Kapolei campus. That's as many as the school projected for 2021.

Communications director Leila Shimokawa believes the programs offered at the Kapolei campus are "speaking to the community."

"But that does mean more students require more classes, and we need more faculty to teach those classes," she said.

West Oahu wasn't opened to ease West Oahu traffic. But every student from the Leeward Coast who enrolls there could mean one less driver making the morning rush toward town.

"We are located in a place where they don't have to get in their cars and drive," she said.

And, says state Rep. Sharon Har, "We see the potential!"

Har, whose district includes Kapolei and Makakilo, would like UH-West Oahu to eventually be the flagship campus for the UH system, and she sees increased attendance there as having a positive impact on traffic.

"We all know that traffic is a different ballgame when UH-Manoa is not in session," she said. "So if we were to reverse the flow of traffic it would be a benefit for the students, the university system and all of the residents of Oahu."

Shimokawa said recruiters do focus on attracting students from high schools in central and Leeward Oahu, in part to keep them closer to home.

"We look at Waianae and Nanakuli, Campbell, Kapolei, Mililani, Waipahu, which is right down the street," she said.

West Oahu offers four-year degrees in liberal arts, professional studies and applied sciences. And the university is working to identify other programs to add to the curriculum.

"We are looking at the degrees and concentrations that we can offer," she said.

There are now five buildings on the grounds. By the end of the year, construction will begin on a new building. Plus, the school has secured state funds to build another structure within five to seven years.

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