DOT proposes plan for roundabout at a busy Kahaluu highway intersection
KAHALUU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Transportation has announced plans to build a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Kahekili and Kamehameha highways in Kahaluu.
According to the DOT, an average of 20,000 vehicles pass through the intersection near a 7-11 and the Hygienic Store every day.
“It’s just really difficult to maneuver, especially if you’re coming out of Kamehameha Highway and trying to make a left onto Kahekili,” said state Rep. Lisa Kitagawa (D-Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Waiahole). “That’s a really hard left turn when it’s really busy.”
It’s also been the scene of collisions, including pedestrians who are hit trying to cross either highway.
“I’ve seen a lot of people get hit right here, actually,” said Bronz Salis, who is often in the area.
The proposed roundabout would cost $5.4 million.
The DOT has been considering a roundabout for years as traffic flow and crashes have increased.
“There’s been talk about traffic lights or different other mitigation measures, but they did some research and they found out that the roundabout would be the best option,” said Kitagawa.
“To my knowledge it will improve, help safety, without measurably reducing any traffic flow,” said state Sen. Gil Riviere (D-North Shore, Windward Oahu).
But some highway users aren’t convinced.
“I don’t agree with it,” said longtime Kahaluu resident Gene Kon. “The amount of traffic that comes through here during traffic hours is a lot. More than what a roundabout would serve its purpose for.”
There are also concerns about how much space the proposed roundabout would need in a cramped area.
Salis believes having safer turn lanes would be the answer.
“I believe that it would be better to split the roundabout in half, like two half-moons, so that way traffic can still flow, because around 4 p.m., the traffic gets kind of overflowed,” he said.
Traffic experts say roundabouts have done their jobs. The DOT said one of them on Highway 130 in Pahoa, cut major traffic crashes from nine in 2016 — before it was built — to zero last year.
“I think they’ll quickly realize that it works — it works all over the world,” said Riviere.
DOT is taking public comment until May 5. Kitagawa also said the department has scheduled a town hall meeting on April 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Key Project in Kahaluu.
If approved, construction is scheduled to start in February 2023, with completion set for July 2024.
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