WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State and city officials are ramping up efforts to alleviate traffic woes along Oahu's Leeward coast.
Through the efforts of State Senator Maile Shimabukuro and City Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine, a total of $6 million will be used for the land acquisition, planning and design for an extension of the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Road (WCEAR).
"If there's an accident or an emergency, it just compounds and that's why we have situations where people are stuck in traffic for 6, 8 or 10 hours it's ridiculous," said Shimabukuro.
Shimabukuro witnesses first-hand how Farrington Highway becomes a parking lot when any incident disrupts the commutes, like this water main break last summer.
"Traffic is the number one quality of life issue for people on the Waianae coast," Shimabukuro said.
Currently, an access road opens for Leeward drivers during emergencies between Sea Country or Kaukama Road to Helelua Street.
The $6 million in combined city and state funds will extend the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Road further east through the Nanakuli Hawaiian Homestead community.
"We're hoping to make it a permanent road for them to use all the time," said Pine.
The project is just one of several solutions to relieve the gridlock.
In February, the state announced it will create a third travel lane for westbound drivers between 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays. The mile-long contraflow lane is planned to begin at Piliokahi Avenue and continue past Helelua Street.
In addition, the state Department of Transportation and the City, in partnership with Oceanic Cable, will install traffic cameras at the four busiest intersections for residents to access online -- including Piliokahi Avenue, Nanakuli Avenue, Haleakala Avenue and Helelua Street.
"This will allow the city to remotely control those four intersections," said Shimabukuro.
Preliminary discussions are contemplating the WCEAR extension to be an elevated road at the back of the homesteads with fingers leading into the main arteries.
"This means a lot more hope for the people of Waianae," Pine said.
Pine and Shimabukuro will be working with DHHL, the City Department of Emergency Management (DEM), the Ahupua'a o Nanakuli Homestead, Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board, Puu Heleakala community associations, Nanakuli Ranch and other stakeholders to plan the extension.