Environmental Assessments at Laniakea
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
The barriers have been pushed back against the fence. No Parking signs are installed, yet completely ignored. Traffic through Laniakea was horrible the first day after barrier removal. Residents are worried that traffic will be consistently terrible like it was in 2013 and before.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it is working quickly to produce an environmental assessment (EA) so it can apply for the Special Management Area (SMA) Permit required to re-install the barriers. Last February, DOT was notified by the City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) that they would need an SMA Permit. DPP had allowed "temporary" placement of the barriers, but more than a year on, the barriers could no longer be considered temporary. Then, the court forced compliance with the law.
At the same time DOT talks about beginning and expediting the permit application for barriers, it says they will not be able to complete the traffic alternatives EA until next year. This is the traffic alternatives EA that commenced in January 2012. If they can expedite a new study, why do they continue to slowly work on the old one?
The public anxiety created by DOT’s focus on temporary parking barriers is a distraction from realizing a long range solution. Now, more than ever, DOT needs to assure the public that it is serious about solving the traffic, pedestrian safety, highway reliability and other important issues related to Kamehameha Hwy at Laniakea.
Whether or not the barriers or a variation of the barriers are used for short term relief, work should accelerate on determining and implementing long range solutions for this area.
Five years after it was first funded, the Laniakea Task Force held its first meeting in January 2012. The DOT has held only four Task Force meetings in nearly four years, even though it was anticipated that the project would last about two years and involve eight meetings.
A highways budget item was created for Laniakea Realignment in 2010, but deleted in 2011, about the same time the Task Force was being pulled together. No Laniakea Realignment project currently exists in the budget planning process; however, the DOT claims it is targeting design money for 2017.
If DOT thinks the barriers could be a viable long term option, then this option should be included in the alternatives analysis. Either way, the alternatives study should be expedited so that an informed discussion on viable solutions can begin in earnest.
Completing the study "next year" has been the response for several years. Forgive my skepticism, but I am not convinced DOT intends to complete the Laniakea Traffic Alternatives Study or if DOT is even willing to build an alternative.
DOT should now commit to completing the study by a date certain and demonstrate its commitment to the project by revising the highway budget to include realignment, or barriers, or whatever may be the best option when the study is complete.