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Residents say ‘improvements’ made to a Diamond Head road are hazardous

Published: Jun. 12, 2021 at 5:51 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 5:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Changes made to a heavily used road in the Diamond Head area are upsetting drivers and residents — many say the improvements are actually hazards.

Paid parking stalls were installed on the ewa side of Leahi Avenue between Monsarrat Avenue and Noela Drive just mauka of Kapiolani Park this week.

Traffic flow is now “yield movement,” which residents are calling a nightmare.

“We’re playing chicken on the road with other cars, and I don’t like that game,” said Michael Schwenke of Honolulu.

The changes are part of a traffic safety improvement project by Safe Leahi LLC — the manager, Mary Jones, called for improvements nearly four years ago.

In an e-mail sent to the community earlier this week, Jones said she’s trying to reduce speeding, clear sidewalks of vehicles for pedestrians to use, and offer parking.

Residents said the plastic barriers put up block areas people used to park in.

“There was no problem before, you know, parking on the side,” said Schwenke.

There were some close calls for drivers caught on camera Saturday.

“All day long it has been harrowing to see,” said Arlene Velasco, a resident in the area.

Residents said speeding has always been a concern, but the recent changes made to this stretch of Leahi Avenue make it far from safe.

“Cars are racing each other to get by,” said Schwenke. “And we have this crosswalk right here, that is often used by kids, families, you know, people using the garden, going to the beach — it’s scary.”

“There’s blind spots now that never existed because of parked cars, it’s very dangerous,” said Velasco.

Jones released a statement saying:

The City’s traffic code and design standards are being used, wherever possible, as best practice and for possible future acquisition. There are deed restrictions that restrict use of parking proceeds for maintenance and improvement of Leahi Avenue.

Even though the city lacks jurisdiction on this private roadway, those living in the area are calling on officials to take a closer look at their concerns and potentially step in.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the city and are waiting to hear back

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