$9M pegged to complete traffic relief project in Ewa
Relief from traffic congestion could be just around the corner for commuters of the Ewa Plain.
The governor announced yesterday she has released $9 million to complete the widening of Fort Weaver Road from a four- to a six-lane highway, according to a news release.
"The widening should have been completed five or six years ago," said Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa-Ewa Beach-Kapolei), vice chairman of the Transportation and Government Operations Committee. "It's the No. 1 complaint that I get: traffic and transportation congestion."
The second phase of the project was supposed to begin after the first phase ended in June, but was stalled due to the consulting company going out of business, state Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said.
The second phase will continue the widening from Aawa Drive to Geiger Road. The first phase widened Fort Weaver on both sides of Laulaunui Street between Farrington Highway and Aawa Drive.
Improvements include turn lanes, traffic signal modifications and new highway lighting, the news release said.
Espero said the project will include sidewalks on both sides of the road, bikeways and a medial strip with curbing to prevent out-of-control cars from crossing into oncoming traffic.
With a shopping center and an additional 4,000 to 5,000 more homes planned in the next 10 years just along Fort Weaver Road and other areas of Ewa and Ewa Beach, Espero considers it vital.
Fort Weaver Road, on the west side, is one of two main arteries connecting the Ewa region to the H-1 freeway. The other is the North-South Road, which will connect the east side of the region to the freeway.
But not everyone sees it as a solution.
"It just makes it a bigger parking lot, no matter if you put five, six or eight lanes," said Jeff Alexander, Ewa Neighborhood Board member. "It's just a Band-Aid effect. There's so much development going on, it's obsolete before it's started."
Ewa Beach resident Jimmy Tapler, who commutes daily to Kakaako, said, "I'm kind of for it and kind of against it in a way."
He learned from City Council members that widening the entire roadway means a speed-limit reduction from 45 mph to 35 mph.
Motorists will travel "slower instead of faster," said Tapler, who got caught in traffic all the way home yesterday.
The project is a federally funded urban design road, requiring speed reduction due to federal requirements for safety, Ishikawa said.
Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D, Waipahu-Ewa) is requesting funds for an overpass near the Child and Family Services center to avoid pedestrian accidents where a crosswalk with a signal light was put up after a pedestrian fatality.
The widening project is scheduled to begin this summer and is expected to take two years to complete, twice as long as the first phase.