Lanikai residents, visitors deal with traffic gridlock

It’s been a frustrating past couple of days for residents and visitors in Lanikai.

With traffic backing up for miles, some are saying it’s taken them a couple of hours to get out of Lanikai Loop, and it’s only expected to get worse over the New Year’s holiday weekend. That’s when the city will restrict parking on the right side of the road.

With only one way in and one way out, traffic gridlock has become a common sight for those who live or play at Lanikai Beach.

“The past three or four years, it’s getting worse and worse,” said resident Kimo Harpstrite, “like tomorrow will be worse, and the day after, it’ll be even worse.”

Over holiday weekends, the traffic going in and out of Lanikai Loop can take over an hour to navigate.

Resident Tom Carroll said “yesterday was a nightmare, total gridlock. Today, I think this little bit of drizzle made everybody bail from the beach at the same time, so it’s starting to turn into the same thing again.”

The city has added more police to direct traffic during the holiday and added parking barriers along one side of the street. Police, fire and EMS vehicles are still able to respond quickly to get in and out of Lanikai in case of emergency situations.

But what’s being done longterm to help alleviate the gridlock? Area representative Chris Lee said “one of the things we’ve done is put over nearly half a million dollars to try to fast-track the reconstruction of the infrastructure, of a new intersection that can flow more cars, trying to get visitors out of their cars and get them pedestrian and bike access into the area so they don’t add to traffic.”

Transportation director Mike Formby said “my traffic engineers are working on, first, a pseudo-roundabout which would in effect turn that triangle into a roundabout, although it wouldn’t be round. It would facilitate the flow of traffic so that people can get in and get out quicker.”

For now, city officials are advising people about the severity of the traffic and letting them know it might be a good idea to stay away from Lanikai Beach the next couple of days if they don’t want to get stuck.

On Wednesday afternoon, to add to the traffic woes, one lane was blocked because of an eight-inch water main break. Repair crews hoped to have water restored to a handful of customers by 10 p.m., but reopening the road will take a little longer.

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