State lawmakers call on city officials to help alleviate traffic snarls in West Oahu


A grueling morning commute for West Oahu residents after an early morning vehicle crash, and it has state lawmakers calling on city officials to do more to help.

A truck slammed into a utility pole in Nanakuli that sent two men to the hospital.

An emergency access road was opened to ease the congestion, but it was closed while traffic was still backed up.

So who decided to close it and why?

Many drivers vented their frustration to state lawmakers for West Oahu, who now say there needs to be a better system and they want the city to help out.

Honolulu police say the gate to get to the emergency access on Paakea road was opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed by 8:00 a.m. in the morning. By then there was a backlog of cars from Nanakuli to Waianae, and drivers say it took a couple of hours just to get past Nanakuli.

“Has it ever taken you that long before?” KHON2 asked.

“No never that long,” Makaha resident Kalei Gilbert said.

“That is the worst?” KHON2 asked.

“That was the worst, so I probably sat in front of Tamura’s for about half hour. Just sitting,” Gilbert said.

“Most of the drivers out in Waianae said it was premature to shut them down so early when people were still in the process of driving up to the valley. They were still on their way there, and the traffic was still so horrendous,” Senator Maile Shimabukuro said.

We’re trying to get answers from HPD on why the gates were not left open longer, and are there any plans to put up any signs when the gates are locked.

HPD sent a statement late this afternoon saying the access road was closed because drivers must eventually get back on Farrington Highway at Lualualei Naval Road, “…creating congestion at that intersection and also impacting westbound traffic.”

Rep. Andria Tupola told KHON2 that documents show that the city Department of Emergency Management should leave the gates open at all times.

“So it should just be open in the first place?” KHON2 asked.

“The document says that it’s to be permanently open, and it’s a discussion that the city and DEM need to have so that this never happens again. If the document said that it should be permanently open, [then] permanently open that road,” Tupola said.

Tupola adds that HPD at first did not want to open the road in the first place because it wasn’t considered an emergency.

She and other state lawmakers tell KHON2 the city and the state need to get together to straighten it all out.

“We need to address it, and what I want to see done in this meeting is for us to strategically plan how we would deal with certain situations such as the incident we had today,” Rep. Cedric Gates said.

We’re trying to find out more about the document Tupola cites that says that the access road is supposed to remain open, and we will let you know when we get more information. HPD says it is also looking into posting signs that will let drivers know when the access road is closed.

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