Finally, Some Action at Laniakea?
Is something finally about to happen at Laniakea? We are all too familiar with the insufferable conditions of Laniakea traffic jams, and long-time readers know of the endless efforts and pleas for relief that so many of us have made for more than 15 years. With some hesitation in reporting this, due to many false starts and delays, there is now some news to report.
Seven years ago, DOT installed barriers to prevent all public parking at Laniakea, presenting it as a temporary test project to see if traffic flow and safety could be improved. Nearly a year and a half later, a judge ruled that the barriers did not look temporary and that normal permits were required. The barriers were removed and various permitting efforts were initiated, but there has been no relief or apparent action in the years since.
Here is an important detail that many residents have not heard. Even before the barriers were removed in 2015, the plaintiffs who won in court offered to settle the case, provided that parking would still be made available behind the barriers. Earlier this year, an agreement was finally reached a between the plaintiffs, DOT and the City to do just that.
The plan is to move the fence mauka into what was historically part of Kawailoa Ranch but became City land eight years ago. Don’t be fooled by anyone who claims this action takes land away from the ranch or its horse riding program. The land was acquired from Kamehameha Schools in 2012 for a long planned Laniakea Beach Support Park.
Moving the fence mauka will open up space to relocate existing parking and allow vehicular movement inside of the new barriers that will be placed along the highway. Cars will enter the parking area on the Haleiwa end of the barriers and exit on the Waimea end. No left turns against traffic will be allowed. In other words, cars entering and exiting must proceed northbound, from Haleiwa towards Waimea, and can only turn right.
Crosswalks are planned for both ends of the barriers. This will aggregate pedestrian crossings at two locations and prevent the haphazard crossing of cars and people throughout the corridor.
One element meriting attention is that drivers will need to make U-turns up or down the highway to return in the direction from which they arrived. Restricting turning actions and coordinating vehicular and pedestrian movement at Laniakea should improve safety and traffic flow; and it is hoped the down street turns will not be too disruptive. This project is meant to be an interim solution that can be reversed or modified, and it will not interfere with potential planning for a more comprehensive solution like highway realignment.
Permits have been approved and the City is eager to get moving. DOT is officially onboard. Hope springs eternal that our state and county agencies will work cooperatively to complete this effort soon. And let’s hope it helps.