Lanikai residents grappling with nightmarish traffic

Lanikai residents grappling with nightmarish traffic

LANIKAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Getting to Lanikai these days is anything but a day at the beach.

A big electronic traffic sign set up by the Kaelepulu Stream bridge says it all: "Severe traffic, 3 hour delays."

"Tuesday was insane, you couldn't get in, you couldn't get out of Lanikai," said longtime resident Mark Librie.

Added Mollie Foti, who's lived on the Lanikai loop for almost 50 years, "Traffic was backed up from about 1:30 p.m. to a quarter of 7."

Residents have gotten used to living with traffic back-ups, but this week has been particularly bad: A perfect storm of beautiful weather and holiday revelers had cars backed up to the mauka side of the loop.

"It was just a parking lot. Cars stopped for as long as an hour, people just turning off their engines, just walking around, playing music," said resident Celeste Smith.

Her son had to make a 9 p.m. flight at Honolulu International Airport. At 6 p.m., she decided there would be no way they'd make it if she tried to drive him.

"We had to strap duffle bags to the back of our electric bikes and we rode down the bike lane and met my husband in Kailua, who luckily had the car out of Lanikai for the day," she said.

That sort of ingenuity has become the norm for residents, who now find themselves planning their lives around the loop.

"If we want to go to the store, you have to make sure you go in the morning and get back," Foti said.

Banning parking on the loop during holiday weekends has had some success. Residents would like to see that traffic prevention made permanent.

"We've been petitioning the State Department of Transportation and City Council," said Librie, "but everything moves slowly, just like the traffic."

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