Protesters rally against Laniakea Beach barriers

Laniakea Beach barriers protest
Published: Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2013 at 1:18 AM HST
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HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens turned out at Laniakea Beach Sunday to protest the state's plans to barricade the beach's parking lot.

And many said the Department of Transportation's proposal to install concrete barriers and shut down the parking lot will worsen the community's already severe traffic problems.

"The people are clamoring for a solution for the traffic but the barriers, I'd say 80 or 90 percent of the residents don't think it's a good idea," said Pupukea resident Larry McElheny.

Disabled surfer Bill Martin said the barricades would make it hard for him to surf on the North Shore.

"This would totally block my access to this whole stretch of the coastline. It would be a pretty bad thing for me," the Sunset Beach resident said.

The rally was organized by End Turtle Traffic and the Surfrider Foundation, which is considering a lawsuit against the state.

"We believe there will be serious legal challenges to any attempt to block access," said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation.

The state said it's plan is in response to numerous complaints from resident.

"HDOT believes by eliminating parking of the mauka side of the highway, pedestrian safety will be improved," the department said.

Residents said there are more effective and less drastic solutions.

One calls for orderly access points from the parking lot to the beach; new cross walks, pedestrian control devices and stoplights and the construction of a by-pass road on nearby city land that will move traffic to the mauka side of the existing parking lot.

"First and foremost is to get the pedestrians off the road. I'm watching families with little kids. We have tour buses that stop and they stick out and block off the entire lane," said Waialua resident Ursula Moreland, who helped design the alternative traffic plan.

Many believe that restricting or banning tour bus stops will also reduce traffic.

"One of our members sat and counted one day ... You can have as many as 100 buses stopping by letting out tourists," said Coleman.

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