Pearl City business upset at intersection closure due to rail

Pearl City business upset at intersection closure due to rail
Published: Jan. 12, 2017 at 3:07 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2017 at 5:23 AM HST
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PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A traffic pattern change due to the city's rail project in Pearl City is not sitting well with a longtime business there.

In just a few weeks, this median opening on Kamehameha Highway that allowed for left turns to and from Kuleana Road will be permanently closed.

That comes as bad news for M. Dyer and Sons, which has been at this corner since 1983. It received an email Wednesday, saying that the tentative date for the closure is January 26.

"Construction has been incredibly difficult to deal with. And then to have the rug pulled out from underneath us is pretty difficult," said company president Rebecca Parker.

Parker said closing the intersection means vehicles coming from the leeward side won't be able to turn left and straight into the lot. Instead her trucks -- and many others -- will now have to make a series of tight right turns from Moanalua Road.

M. Dyer truck driver Meljon Tamayo demonstrated how difficult -- and potentially dangerous -- the tight turn is onto Kuleana. He was driving a 45-foot long container truck, and started his right turn from the left lane of Kaahumanu Road. He had to go into the oncoming lane of Kuleana to avoid jumping the sidewalk.

"It's too sharp a turn. It's like a 90 degree turn. And the road is just too tight," he said.

"My proposal two years ago was if you're actually going to do this, can you then widen the top of Kuleana Road -- it is city property up there -- to allow the trucks to safely turn onto Kuleana Road," said Parker, who added that the change will increase traffic in the residential neighborhood.

But we were told the city didn't think it was enough of a safety issue to widen Kuleana Road.

In a statement, HART apologized for the inconvenience, but "realizes the closure of the median at the intersection of Kuleana Road and Kamehameha Highway is best because crossing the divided highway between the columns installed to support the elevated rail guideway is clearly a safety issue, not only for trucks making the crossing, but also for the motoring public using Kamehameha Highway."

That did not satisfy Parker.

"To say that it possibly might be a safety concern going forward -- well, how could it not been a safety concern through all the construction process?"

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