Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Several signs posted along Kaukonahua Road warn drivers
to be careful. This view is looking toward Waialua. Several
spots along the highway have collections of flowers in
remembrance of drivers and passengers who have
perished along this stretch of roadway.

City considers
Kaukonahua Road

The death trap has claimed 20 lives
in 17 accidents since 1995

By Leila Fujimori

City officials are focusing on straightening two-lane Kaukonahua Road, where seven people have been killed in traffic accidents this year.

City consultant Lyon Associates Inc. suggests a long-term proposal of reconstructing "S" curves in the road.

An alternative proposal would be to construct a new alignment through what are now pineapple fields, said Mark Nelson of Lyon Associates.

"Whenever you straighten out the road ... you promote speeding," warned Paul Hamamoto, engineering program manager for the traffic branch of the state Department of Transportation.

They appeared at a Kaukonahua Road safety improvements meeting yesterday in the City Council committee room.

On April 12, three Mililani friends -- Andrew Delos Reyes, Anthony Alexander and Jeremy Tolentino -- died after their station wagon crossed the center line on Kaukonahua Road, crashed into a guardrail and was struck by a sedan.

Police say 20 people have died in a total of 17 accidents on the road since 1995.

Councilwoman Rene Mansho requested $400,000 be added to the proposed capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2002 for the design and construction of the short-term remedies. The Council will hold a hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

A public meeting will be held 7 p.m. May 17 to discuss the proposals at the Haleiwa Elementary cafetorium.

Some concerned residents' suggestions made at an April 18 meeting were also discussed, and the consultant incorporated some of their suggestions.

Two weeks ago, Lyon Associates submitted its proposed short-, medium- and long-term plans to the city Department of Transportation Services.

Nelson offered short-term, less controversial solutions: Ban all passing zones; decrease speed limits to 35 mph from 45 mph, and to 25 mph from 35 mph; and install rumble strips on the edge of the road.

For medium-term plans, Nelson proposed removing 14 trees and two drainage structures within three feet of the roadway, widening curves in problem areas and reconstructing the road in certain areas, widening or providing pull-off shoulders. A Department of Transportation Services official warned that if no place is given to pull over and all passing is banned, impatient drivers will pass in dangerous places.

Waialua resident Thomas Shirai said he rarely saw accidents along Kaukonahua Road while growing up in Waialua.

"During my time there was more driver courtesy," he said. Even the many 18-wheelers hauling sugar cane would pull off to the side to allow cars to pass and would even signal cars to pass. "Nowadays you rarely see that."

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