Hawaii officials grapple with Oahu area’s pedestrian dangers
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii tourism officials are offering to help fund possible solutions to problems such as traffic and jaywalking near a popular tourism site, a report said.
Traffic and pedestrian issues are affecting how and when people drive around Oahu’s North Shore, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.
A 10-year-old boy from California was hit by a vehicle while crossing Kamehameha Highway Aug. 1, which increased calls for changes near Laniakea Beach.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has said it is willing to spend $7 million to $8 million to help fund solutions at Laniakea Beach, which is not an official beach park and has no bathrooms or parking lots.
Ideas include the installation of traffic lights, crosswalks and hiring crossing guards or off-duty Honolulu police officers, officials said.
The state Department of Transportation installed concrete barriers along the highway in 2013 to prevent parking and jaywalking, but the barriers were removed following a 2015 lawsuit.
“If the barriers were still in place, that kid never would have gotten hit,” said Ed Sniffen, the transportation department’s deputy director of highways.
There is currently no consensus on how to make Kamehameha Highway safer for crossing pedestrians, officials said. Drivers often pull off the road and sprint in front of traffic at Laniakea Beach, which is a popular spot to watch sea turtles.
Estimates to build a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer), horseshoe-shaped highway bypass have reached $65 million. Even if the transportation department could gain access to the land, an environmental study would take at least a couple of years to complete, Sniffen said.
“That doesn’t help anything in the short term,” he said.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com