City to implement traffic changes in more congested school zones

A traffic change at one of Oahu’s largest schools will also be implemented at other schools to keep children safe and traffic flowing.

We first told you about traffic changes outside of August Ahrens Elementary before the new school year started.

Now, we’ve learned the city is responding to concerns from other communities.

The city Department of Transportation Services says it’s working on traffic changes at two other schools.

Before the city took action, traffic during pick-up and drop-off times at August Ahrens Elementary would be gridlocked.

Parents would double-park along Mahoe Street as they waited, and the flood of vehicles made it dangerous for the rush of kids leaving school.

Now that the city has extended no-parking zones outside of the school, we stopped by to see if anything has changed.

Student Marick Enriquez told us he feels safer crossing the street to go home, and eventually students at other schools may say the same.

As part of the city’s Complete Streets program, safety-oriented traffic changes will be made at Kawananakoa Middle School in Nuuanu and Fern Elementary in Kalihi.

Complete Streets coordinator Mike Packard says Kawananakoa is “an area at an intersection on Nuuanu (Avenue) where there are a high amount of pedestrians mixed with high volume of vehicles that come through in the morning.”

Meanwhile at Fern Elementary, Packard says “we are working to reconfigure some of the roadway from School Street makai to help delineate parking stalls and where pedestrians can walk.”

The school traffic improvements struck a chord with Niu Valley resident William Keith Lawthor, who watched our original story on the changes at August Ahrens.

“It made me feel good. That’s what made me give a call to you, to see if the same could be done at Niu Valley,” he said. “I’ve observed kids going between cars, crossing the street. Cars going around other cars. It’s a dangerous situation to me. They’re not going fast because of this bend, but somebody could get hurt.”

The city tells us it starts a study into improvements when it hears about problems through schools or city council members.

If you’d like to see traffic improvements at a school near you, the city says you should call your city council representative.

“The interest of the council members and schools is for student safety. That’s really our highest and utmost intent when we do these projects,” Packard said.

According to Honolulu police, there have been two pedestrians deaths on Oahu so far this year.

The city is urging drivers to pay attention, especially near school zones, and for pedestrians to always stay on guard.

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