North Shore residents: Traffic congestion putting drivers, pedestrians at risk

North Shore residents: Traffic congestion putting drivers, pedestrians at risk

LANIAKEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aaron Presser lives in Pupukea, and said he's considering moving his son to a different preschool because the seven-mile commute along Kamehameha Highway now takes 45 minutes.

"The problem is we have another baby," Presser said. "Waiting that 45 minutes each way to drop our kid off is really difficult when you have a second child."

Traffic along the North Shore's main artery has been getting worse for years, but community members now say they're concerned the congestion is putting drivers, pedestrians and those on the beach at risk.

"It's a longstanding, ongoing issue. Laniakea has been at a bottleneck for 20 plus years," said state Rep. Sean Quinlan. "We have to look at the bigger picture. We are not just talking about the community, we are talking about the millions of visitors."

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Oahu had five million visitors in 2016. With a large number of tourists traveling to the North Shore, hotspots like Laniakea Beach have become saturated with cars and buses.

With steep drops to the beach, no crosswalks or legal parking, beachgoers at Laniakea jaywalk across Kamehameha Highway at everyone's risk, often disrupting traffic.

"With people crossing the road every which way, cars are pulling off to the side of the road, those may have been factors involved in an accident here," Presser said. "A vehicle flipped over onto the beach where people sit."

Although concrete barriers were put up in the recent past to hinder illegal parking, local business owners say they want law enforcement and the state to take more action.

"There's just not a lot of planning on how to deal with half of the visitors that come to Oahu every year, coming to the North Shore," said Carol Philips, owner of North Shore Surf Girls and member of the North Shore Neighborhood Board's transportation committee.

Sofia Sorensen, a seasonal employee at the surf school, said she has had to personally help customers get to the beach.

"There are a lot of surfers here and many of them have to walk back and forth with their boards," Sorensen said. "I see a lot of people, our customers, when they are crossing the street, we almost have to help them."

The brunt of enforcement has fallen on lifeguards who have put up cones in dangerous areas of the road and continue to patrol access points.

The city's Department of Ocean Safety declined to comment on the traffic issues; the Honolulu Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

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