HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Under pressure from the North Shore community, the state Department of Transportation said it will now look at moving parts of Kamehameha Highway near Laniakea Beach inland to provide limited parking on the makai side of the highway.
The plan is expected to cost between $6 million and $8 million and will take two years to obtain environmental clearance, the DOT said.
State Sen. Gil Riviere, whose district covers Waialua, said it’s about time but added that he’s not impressed by the state’s efforts so far.
“This is the number one issue that they have denied from day one. They have never, never, never entertained this thing ... Now magically because the pressures is on, maybe we’ll do the wiggle road,” said Riviere.
The move comes after a 10-year-old California boy was seriously injured Thursday after he was struck by a car while trying to cross the highway. The boy has improved and has since left the hospital.
Riviere said the accident is a product of years of inaction by the DOT.
“They have continued to drag their feet and are nowhere closer for solving this problem for us and everyone is angry," he said.
UH Civil Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros said he and his student recently looked at the pedestrian and traffic patterns near Laniakea Beach. He said every hour, there’s an average of “1,000 vehicles, 300 pedestrian.”
“No sidewalks, no signs, no nothing. That’s why this area has been a problem for safety and congestion for many, many years,” he said.
The state said Thursday’s accident could have been avoided had the barriers that were set up in 2013 still been in place. The state was forced to take them down after residents sued.
The state said it continues to study a longer term solution of re-aligning the highway further inland on state-owned land. That project would cost about $65 million but funding is not "currently available,” the DOT said.
Riviere said the state hasn’t even completed its environmental study for that project, despite promising to do so for years.
Riviere said he has more hope in a proposal by a working group that includes area lawmakers, the city, the visitor industry and the DOT. They want to station crossing guards along the highway, funded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
No word on when that might start.
Prevedouros said he supports any solutions — long-term or short.
“I understand it takes a long time to install long time measures but it’s already been a long time and they’re mired in their paperwork," he said.