Hints of Progress at Laniakea
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
When I again asked for a commitment to either complete or cancel the Laniakea Traffic Alternatives Study a few weeks ago, the Acting Director of Highways said the Department of Transportation (DOT) would do neither. He claims that if the alternatives study were completed, the department would not have funds to proceed with any improvement; and, if the project were canceled, it would be too hard to restart later. He emphasized the priority is to focus on system preservation and to not consider any new capacity projects over the foreseeable horizon.
Two days later, I got a message from a property owner near Laniakea who received an invitation to a meeting with DOT planners about possible Laniakea realignment options. He wanted to know if I would like to attend the meeting as his guest. Would I? I was only too happy to accept, and I appreciate his courtesy to invite me.
The Laniakea Realignment Task Force was last convened in 2014 and there had been no information forthcoming, except that a new shoreline certification is being processed and that DOT hoped to re-install the parking barriers soon. The department hopes that by declaring the highway and parking area to be makai of the official shoreline, they might be able to skip some permitting requirements. This seems illogical and misguided to me, but that is the plan.
Two meetings were held for property owners on each side of Laniakea and Chuns. I attended both and was pleased to see the project planners are closing in on a preferred route and concept for a realigned highway. They are hoping to finish the study – you guessed it – within the next several months. I am cautiously hopeful they may truly be getting towards the end. Experience, unfortunately, does not support this hope, so we must temper any enthusiasm these meetings may have kindled.
So, how does one reconcile the seeming disconnect between comments of the Acting Director and actions of the planners? The Laniakea realignment study is officially a safety and highway protection action, not a capacity enhancement. The director’s comments were not inaccurate, but he clearly failed to provide context to the status of the project study.
The police have begun ticketing cars parked at Laniakea. I would greatly appreciate observations and feedback from residents who regularly drive through the area as to whether or not the police efforts are having positive, negative, or neutral impact.
Please email a message to SenRiviere@capitol.hawaii.gov and let me know if you think pedestrian safety is improved, if your drive time has been improved or altered in any way, if the increased parallel parking along the highway has impacted drive time or pedestrian safety, if your personal access to the beach has been impacted, or any other comments you have about the new police enforcement. I look forward to reading your comments.