The number one quality of life issue for much of our North Shore ohana is the lack of progress regarding the daily traffic jams at Laniakea. Barely a day passes when I do not talk about Laniakea traffic with a frustrated resident. Readers of this column have probably noticed this subject is also the most recurring topic.
There are two issues, one is short term relief, and the other is long term design. Both projects are mired in the slow-moving world of the Department of Transportation and other government bureaucracy.
In December 2013, the DOT installed the parking barriers as a temporary measure. A year and a half later, the court noticed that no effort had been made by DOT to secure the necessary permits for permanent installation, and further, that parking and public beach access should not be blocked without justification. DOT announced they should be able to secure the permits in 3-6 months. The barriers were removed three years ago.
Rather than complete the Special Management Area Permit needed for barrier installation, DOT is trying a different tactic. They are seeking approval of a shoreline certification survey that indicates the highway and the parking area are all within the shoreline. With this determination, they hope to be exempt from the SMA process and get to quicker approval for barrier replacement. We shall see.
The group that brought the legal challenge to hold DOT accountable to the permitting process have received plenty of grief. It is important to note that they have been willing to support barrier replacement, provided that some accommodation is made for parking and beach access. Unfortunately, the State DOT and City Parks Department have not shown much interest or commitment to working this option out.
Not long ago, DOT held a pair of meetings for residents on either side of Laniakea to seek their input on the latest realignment plan. I attended both meetings to listen to their comments regarding how access to their homes could be impacted. I have since learned that not all affected residents were aware or invited to the meeting.
Years ago, when the last Laniakea Realignment Task Force meeting was held, DOT was considering four realignment variations. Based on topography and archaeological considerations, they have narrowed the preferred route to the most mauka option. This plan would see the road begin to curve about 10 houses before the existing Laniakea bridge, curve behind the city beach park land, continue on the old cane haul road and connect back to the existing roadway behind Chun’s Reef at Ashley Rd.
The planners seem engaged and are waiting on a determination from the State Historic Preservation Division on whether more extensive archaeological work is needed. I am pleased to know that, finally, work is being done on the alternatives study. It could happen this year, but I am not yet holding my breath.