Drivers urged to avoid Lanikai over MLK holiday as city warns of ‘extreme’ congestion

A bit of rain and a construction warning from the city kept many people away from Lanikai on Sunday, but still slow getting out of the area.
Published: Jan. 15, 2023 at 5:49 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 8:18 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cloudy skies and a construction warning from the city meant many stayed away from Lanikai on Sunday. But traffic into and out of the area was still slow-going.

On Sunday morning, there was a slow moving line of vehicles leaving Lanikai. It’s the trade-off for beachgoers who can’t resist the neighborhood that city officials warned people to stay away from.

Businesses say the situation is impacting their bottom line.

Buzz’s Steakhouse manager Sarah Baptist says since the beginning of the new year, they’ve had nearly 40 cancellations.

“We’ve definitely had a lot of people calling to cancel reservations because people don’t want to go through the hassle of coming through the traffic,” said Baptist.

The city is urging residents and tourists to avoid Lanikai over the MLK holiday, warning of 'extreme road congestion.'

The ongoing construction for a roundabout is expected to last about two years as the city adds drainage, gutters, curbs, walkways, and crossings.

The workers at Kalapawai Market have a front seat view.

“It’s been pretty nuts,” said Kalapawai Market barista Allison Bohnhoff. “There’s usually like a good pile up all the way up the street, and traffic’s crazy and backed up and a lot of people don’t know where to go.”

Right now, the city is diverting Lanikai’s outgoing traffic through Kailua Beach Park.

Officials say delays leaving Lanikai can be up to 40 minutes. But Jon Nouchi, deputy director of the city Department of Transportation, said they plan to change the route this week.

“Now we’re wrapping up that phase this Tuesday with an asphalt pour that will allow us to restripe the roadway and open the roadway for the next phase in construction phase two,” said Nouchi.

“Hopefully it clears things up more and makes things run a little bit smoother,” added Bohnhoff. “And we’re crossing our fingers for that.”

The city said parking will be restricted in Lanikai between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Tuesday.

Parking at Kailua Beach is also limited.