Traffic, schools among top concerns surrounding Koa Ridge development

Rendering of Castle and Cooke's Koa Ridge development

A new middle and high school for Central Oahu could be a possibility following the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision to approve Castle & Cooke’s Koa Ridge development.

As we reported on Wednesday, the ruling allows Castle & Cooke to move forward with its first phase, which includes 3,500 homes.

That final stamp of approval is leading many residents in Central Oahu to ask about impacts.

“My biggest concern would be overcrowding in the schools,” said Mililani resident Jenny McCarty.

Here’s what we found out:

The developer has set aside 12 acres of land in that area for schools, and it’s up to the Department of Education to decide how many schools are needed and a timeline. Right now, one elementary school is planned, and Castle & Cooke said it will likely fall in the Pearl City or Waipahu district.

Officials at the state Department of Education did not talk on camera, but said there is a possibility for more schools being built at Koa Ridge.

In an email, a DOE spokesperson said, “The department will plan on accommodating future families in the area… discussions about a middle and high (school) are taking place.”

Another big concern is congestion.

“It will only make traffic worse,” said Mililani resident Mark Mullins. “Getting out of the exit right here can take a long time.”

“You’re talking about people commuting from this one spot, H-1, H-2 is already at capacity here,” McCarty said.

The state Department of Transportation says an average of 99,000 vehicles use the H-2 Freeway every day.

Castle & Cooke plans to spend $50 million for improvements to Ka Uka Boulevard in Waipio and the Waipio interchange, and a new interchange will be built at the Pineapple Road overpass, located between Waipio and Mililani.

The developer also said it plans to make improvements at the intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Ka Uka Bouelvard, and restripe Waipahu Street.

There are also plans to create 2,300 jobs within Koa Ridge, so people don’t have to commute.

KHON2 asked the DOT how many more vehicles could be on the H-2 when people begin living at Koa Ridge. We expect to receive that information within a couple of days.

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