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LETTER: Kawaihae Road Improvements

Posted November 13, 2015, 09:02 AM HST
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The Kawaihae Road is in dire need of safety and traffic flow improvements. There is four highway projects that will help mitigate the traffic congestion and safety deficiencies in this area. Replacing the aging Waiaka Bridge is at the top of this list.

Celebrity Roseanne Barr is opposed to this project because she wants to preserve Hawaii’s history. I strongly believe this is a shortsighted view. The existing bridge has serious safety and traffic flow deficiencies. These issues cannot be fixed unless the Waiaka bridge is replaced.

This bridge was constructed in 1932, which raises a lot of questions about the bridge’s structural integrity. If anything happens to the Waiaka bridge, it will block the one of the lifelines for cargo arriving and leaving Kawaihae Harbor.

Constructing a mini-bypass from Mahua Street and Mamalahoa Highway is the second project that should move forward to provide traffic relief. This proposed highway will reduce the horrible traffic congestion in the core of Waimea town. In addition, it will provide an additional route for cross island truckers, and an alternative emergency route.

The proposed mini-bypass is only part of the solution to improve Kawaihae Road, so I suggest reconstructing the makai segment of Kawaihae Road between HPA and Kawaihae/Queen Kaahumanu Highway. This part of Kawaihae Road is dire need of safety improvements, such as straightening the existing roadway, adding wider shoulders, and mauka bound passing lane like they have on the new west side Saddle Road phase.

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Lastly, I strongly believe the existing Kawaihae Road/Queen Kaahumanu Highway intersection should be signalized. Yes, adding additional intersection roadway capacity will help. However, I strongly believe this intersection should be signalized also. The amount of cargo traffic going through Kawaihae harbor will continue to grow, so these safety and traffic flow issues will become more and more obvious over time.

Aaron Stene, Kailua-Kona

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