Laniakea barriers working, but community still divided

Laniakea Beach barriers

A sunny day on the North Shore and you’re sure to find lots of people driving out to see the turtles sunning themselves on Laniakea Beach.

The popularity has created traffic jams, which drew complaints from residents. So the state put barriers along the highway where beachgoers parked, forcing them to park farther down.

“It’s actually quite slower ’cause people are looking for places to park and walk up here. So to me, it’s worse than the last couple of times I’ve been here,” Honolulu resident Melodie White said.

“I see traffic flowing and I know before when all the cars were parked over there, we did have to stop for quite a while,” Manoa resident Amanda Sisowath said.

It was mixed reaction from beachgoers and the same for North Shore community also. It seems the demonstration project has polarized residents and not really convinced them one way or another.

“If they oppose the barrier, it’s not working. If they support the barriers, they’re feeling like it is working,” North Shore resident Gil Riviere said.

Environmental groups have also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and want the barriers removed.

Riviere says traffic has improved, but only because there aren’t nearly as many tour buses stopping there anymore since the barriers went up.

“By eliminating the tour buses, we’ve taken a lot of people out of the equation. It seems to me we could go back to trying to allow the parking and restrict the tour buses. It seems to me that would be the next step in the demonstration project,” Riviere said.

Riviere says the state can still improve the traffic just by keeping the tour buses out. But some residents want the barriers to go.

“I think just about everybody agrees it maybe was worth a trial, but the trial has been had. Let’s try something else,” Riviere said.

The DOT says it has received positive feedback on the barriers. But a spokeswoman said she can’t comment on what the decision will be because of the pending lawsuit.

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