Navy to improve traffic flow at popular mall

Tuvalu Panapa-Cooley
Tuvalu Panapa-Cooley
Debby Kantorowicz
Debby Kantorowicz

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MOANALUA (KHNL) - Traffic can be a hassle when you're trying to get to and from work, but when you're on your lunch break, it becomes a race against time.

The Moanalua Shopping Center is on U.S. Navy property. It's pretty calm now, but during the lunch hour, this place can seem like Grand Central Station. That's why the Navy is looking to improve traffic flow here.

More than two dozen stores and restaurants make Moanalua Shopping Center a popular lunch spot, so popular, folks have to give themselves lead time.

"Everyone takes their lunch break between 11 and one o'clock hours, so we're all scrambling for that same parking spot," said Debby Kantorowicz, an Ewa Beach resident.

That means circling around the parking lot a few times, before actually finding a spot. It's an all too familiar ritual for this lunch crowd.

"If we're going to sit down, we need to tack on at least another half an hour to our hour lunch break," said Kantorowicz.

The reason people keep coming back despite the congestion is the food. This group from Schofield barracks is celebrating two promotions and their return from Iraq.

"We didn't want nothing too fancy or kind of like below the level either, so we found this was more in the average level, so it was good," said Tuvalu Panapa-Cooley, a U.S. Army soldier, originally from American Samoa.

Since the renovated mall reopened two years ago, it's gotten more popular than anyone expected. So the Navy has taken action to alleviate some of the traffic problems.

"The Navy helped expand some capacity over Warden and Valkenburgh, and we just recently awarded a project to do some safety repairs, widening them, plus more parking along Bougainville," said Lynn Tanaka, a U.S. Navy engineer. "So all around this area, we're looking at repairing and upgrading the roads."

It's a sigh of relief for folks who value time and a good meal.

The Navy will continue to monitor the situation to see if further improvements can be made. It is also looking at expanding its mixed use concept to other Navy properties on the mainland.