Pedestrian bridge connecting Wahiawa and Whitmore Village sparks controversy

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 4:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - While a pedestrian bridge in Central Oahu offers another way for people to get to and from Wahiawa and Whitmore Village, the project has been a divisive issue.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who represents Central Oahu, said residents have been asking for a secondary access point for several years now.

“The Wahiawa Transit Center is in the middle of Wahiawa, the satellite city hall, a lot of the retail and medical services are all in Wahiawa,” said Dela Cruz. “And so that’s where the community association at the time asked for access.”

The walkway would start near the police station on North Cane St. and would cross over Kiikii Stream into Whitmore.

But some people questioned the safety of the pathway.

“There are thieves, there are drug dealers, there are drug transactions in this area,” said said TJ Cuaresma of Wahiawa. “And there is no assurance that this area can be secured and safe.”

Others see it as a safer alternative to Karsten Thot Bridge.

“It’s really unsafe,” said Duncan Osorio, vice president of the Wahiawa Community and Business Association. “The kids are walking through those homeless encampments now on Kamehameha [Highway].”

The Wahiawa-Whitmore Village Neighborhood Board held meetings in both areas for feedback from residents on the project.

Jeanne Ishikawa, the chair of the board said while some spoke in favor of the bridge, the majority opposed.

“We realized as a board that this bridge is separating us other than connecting us,” said Ishikawa.

While Dela Cruz said the majority of the project’s $14 million of funds has been released by the governor, House Representative Amy Perruso said it’s not too late to reconsider.

“He can pull back these funds, he can pull back this project and I think that it might be wise for him to examine that possibility,” said Perruso.

“It may have been warranted in the past, but in current times the bridge is not a priority for either Whitmore or Wahiawa as far as I’ve heard,” said Ishikawa.

Dela Cruz said the Department of Transportation is still in contact with other agencies to see what types of services or other infrastructure that could be implemented at the same time as the pedestrian bridge.

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