By Diane Ako
KAPAA, Kauai (KHNL) - Tourist and residential growth comes with a price for Kauai: traffic congestion. It's one of the biggest problems facing the garden isle today. So what's the government doing about it?
Yardman Gary Dias works his schedule around the island's traffic. "I self employed so you want to get jobs done and stuff and I gotta stay in traffic. All sorts of things go through your mind, you wanna kill something."
The Kapaa resident says it's been a problem for 10 years! "It's like our world revolves around the traffic."
The problem spots run east-west along Kaumuali'i Highway, and north-south on Kuhio Highway. The state's decade long, $360 million plan includes widening Kaumualii Highway from 2 to 4 lanes, possibly widening Kuhio highway, and adding more lanes over the Wailua river bridge. Construction on some areas could start as soon as this summer.
County Councilman Mel Rapozo proposes a quicker, cheaper solution. "The network of former cane haul roads provides an opportunity for this county to open up those roads, with a little bit of improvements, and allow some of the traffic to take advantage of those instead of putting it on the highway." In the interim, he also wants to alter commuter patterns by staggering work and school schedules.
The bottom line is this, he sighs: "We've got to get cars off the highway!"