Community split on short-term solution for Laniakea traffic

LANIAKEA

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North Shore residents can agree they are fed up with having to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Kamehameha Highway.

It’s a traffic mess caused by beachgoers darting across the road to check out sea turtles at Laniakea Beach.

But the community is divided when it comes to deciding on a short-term solution. The Department of Transportation has offered two options: deal with it or they’ll put up barriers.

“Barriers will prevent them from parking at Laniakea, so traffic can move right through,” said Bobby Robinson, a North Shore resident who likes the barrier idea.

“They’re going to put up barriers at peak surf season and where are all the surfers supposed to park?” said Mahina Chillingworth, of Da Hui, who opposes barriers.

The DOT and the Laniakea Task Force met Wednesday night to get input from both sides.

For several years, the Task Force group has been working towards a complete road realignment project, but the DOT says that would take several years to complete.

In the meantime, a 970-foot section of barriers mauka of the highway could be installed by the end of the year.

“It’s not a best solution, but it’s something, and I’m sick of nothing happening,” a North Shore resident testified.

“Barriers are temporary. If we go with a reroute, it could take five, 10 to 25 years. The problem is now,” said John Desoto, who owns a ranch across from Laniakea Beach.

But others worry the barriers option will only further delay work towards a permanent fix and keep local surfers from their favorite spot.

“We deserve better. Sure it will help traffic, but at what price? We deserve a whole lot better than what you are offering,” North Shore resident Bob Leinau said.

“It would change the dynamic, the country feel of the North Shore by putting up barriers,” Chillingworth said.

On Tuesday night, the North Shore Neighborhood Board voted down the idea to install barriers. On Wednesday night, the Laniakea Task Force was split on a decision.

The DOT will now have the final say.

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