A $9M roundabout is coming to a busy Windward Oahu intersection, and not everyone is rejoicing

The state plans to start construction next week on a $9M roundabout in Windward Oahu.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:21 PM HST|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 10:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state plans to start construction next week on a $9 million roundabout in Windward Oahu.

Construction for the roundabout in Kahaluu is set to start on June 7.

The DOT says it’s meant to improve safety in the area, but some residents say the real focus should be improving traffic.

The 18-month-long project will go into the quiet Kahalu’u community on Oahu’s Windward side at the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Kamehameha Highway.

Some residents, like Kalani Mendes, say their community does not need roundabouts.

“See roundabouts I try to avoid them and stay away from. They’re a nuisance,” Mendes asid.

“Kind of confusing, especially if you so used to your regular driving every day you going to put a roundabout there it’s going to throw everybody off.”

State Sen. Brenton Awa, who represents the area, says residents at a town hall last year asked the DOT to add a left turn lane down the road by Kahaluu Elementary so cars sitting in the highway waiting for an opening to turn don’t snarl traffic.

“For some residents out here, especially out in the country, it’s basically typical, we have a problem and government, here’s what we need, and the government comes in, and instead of a common sense solution, they offer something totally else,” said Awa.

The DOT tells HNN it is also looking to do that project, but it’s at least three years down the road.

It says the roundabout project has been in the works for more than 20 years.

“It’s the safest, most efficient option that we can put into that intersection that can stem the crashes that are occurring but provide the throughput that everyone deserves for vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, all users. That’s why the roundabout makes the most sense,” said DOT Director Ed Sniffen.

The project does have support from longtime resident John Reppun, who says safety is a concern and is grateful to the DOT for taking action to improve it.

“This comes down to recapturing the heart of Kahaluu, where people need to come off the relatively high-speeding Kahekili Highway and slow down. We have Kahaluu Regional Park there. This is where our community gathers, so we have to slow traffic down as people come into Kahaluu,” said Reppun.

The DOT says once construction begins, crews will work 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.