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Thursday, November 9, 2000

Offramp reopening
causes fear

Fast freeway drivers
close in on slow traffic
around Bingham Street

By Mary Adamski

Motorists heading for Moiliili and points makai of the H-1 freeway were delighted to have the Bingham Street offramp reopened, but for the neighborhood it was a double whammy.

Fast traffic exiting the freeway is a dangerous mix with slowed neighborhood traffic detouring around a Board of Water Supply waterline replacement, neighborhood representatives told a state Department of Transportation meeting last night.

Charles Nakaima of the Bingham Tract Concerned Citizens Coalition chided the department for going ahead with the Nov. 1 reopening of the exit while the streets are torn up. "There was an incredible increase in the quality of life in our neighborhood while the cutoff was closed," Nakaima told the H-1 Corridor Task Force.

"Making a plain neighborhood street into a highway ... something has to give," said Bob White, whose mother lives in the neighborhood which stretches between Beretania Street and the freeway, Punahou Street to Isenberg Street.

He said that only for the six weeks the ramp was closed did elderly residents begin to feel safe as pedestrians in the area, which sees 9,000 commuters pass from the offramp to Beretania Street or Isenberg Street.

Department of Transportation engineering program manager Martin Okabe told the gathering of 15 people that a study is under way on the proposed closing of the Bingham exit, but no result is likely for a year.

Burt Goldenberg of the Marco Polo condominium on Kapiolani Boulevard put in a word for commuters who use the route.

"A lot of people besides Bingham Street residents are affected. People who live below the freeway, parents who take kids to Iolani School ... were spending a lot of time clogging other main arteries while the exit was closed," he said.

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