Residents: Gridlock is the new normal for Oahu's North Shore

Residents: Gridlock is the new normal for Oahu's North Shore
Updated: Nov. 11, 2016 at 6:11 PM HST
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NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Traffic was crawling through Oahu's North Shore on Friday, as tourists and residents sought to enjoy the holiday by heading to check out big surf.

But the gridlock along Kamehameha Highway isn't just something North Shore residents see on weekends and holidays. It's a problem that persists all year round, especially during the winter months as North Shore communities see an influx of big wave spectators.

"The traffic definitely impacts quality of life on the North Shore," said Carol Philips, chairwoman of the North Shore Neighborhood Board's transportation subcommittee. "It's especially bad for anyone who lives in Pupukea and Sunset Beach."

Philips says residents who live on the North Shore and work in town suffer the most. "It increases your commute time by at least a third," she said.

For years, the state Department of Transportation has been trying to find a solution. One long-term option: Move the highway mauka in an effort relieve congestion, especially around Laniakea.

The agency is working on an environmental impact study to study the proposal. It's not expected to be completed, though, until the end of next year.

In a statement, state Sen. Gil Riviere said the impact study has hit several delays.

"The environmental and traffic alternative study was projected to take 18 months when it kicked off in January 2012," said Riviere, whose district includes communities on Oahu's North Shore. "During the last few years, the estimated completion date has always been several months from when the question was asked."

He added that he remains hopeful that the study will be completed as promised, but he's not holding his breath.

In the meantime, business owners say there's a bright side to the traffic.

"It gives us more exposure. We get to see and meet more people, show them what we have to offer and really give them what a sense of what the real Hawaii is like," said Rick Brosnan, manager of North Shore Surf Shop.

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