Sunday, June 17, 2001

Manana road
extension aims to
relieve bottleneck

Critics fear that a new Home
Depot and more traffic will
hurt more than it helps

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The $8.5 million extension of Kuala Street may change the complexion of Pearl City.

For better or worse, it is expected to draw a lot more people and cars into the Manana area when it opens in the coming weeks.

The four-lane, three-quarter mile long road, dedicated yesterday connects the end of Moanalua Road with Acacia Road near the Pearl Highlands Center by cutting through the city's 109 acres at Manana.

The actual opening of the road depends on when the road's traffic signals begin operating properly, said project coordinator Ron Haraga of KFC Engineering Management. That's expected to take place in the next few weeks, he said.

The Kuala extension is the critical artery for the city's $45 million redevelopment of the property that once housed the Navy's Manana warehouses.

Expected to open in the next two years are corporation yards, a community park and youth facility, a bus yard and business-commercial development including a high technology park.

Some are expecting the road to provide some relief to the bottleneck at the Kamehameha Highway-Waimano Home Road intersection.

The folks at Colliers Monroe Friedlander, managers of Pearl Highlands Center, certainly think it will make things better.

"Kamehameha Highway is a very busy street and this is an incredible reliever road," said Andrew Friedlander, Colliers' chief executive officer.

"I think it's going to do wonders for the Pearl City community."

Others, however, are more skeptical and wonder what will happen at other intersections with both the Manana and Home Depot sites slated to be done around the same time.

Pearl City area Councilman Gary Okino calls the Manana development a mixed blessing.

The Kuala extension is critical for development of the Manana properties, which will bring recreational facilities and other needed projects, Okino said. But he said he's not so sure it will relieve traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.


That's because all the traffic expected to be drawn to the new development could offset any improvements by those choosing to use Kuala as a "bypass" away from the Kamehameha-Waimano Home Road intersection, Okino said.

Among the Manana projects scheduled to come online:

>> The $20 million bus facility and maintenance yard that will house 250 buses. The facility is scheduled to be completed in late August.

>> The $4.2 million, 14-acre Manana Community Park and Youth Facility that will include a soccer field, recreational fields and two softball fields. The youth facility will include a learning center, lounge and multi-purpose room. The project is expected to be finished at the end of next month.

>> The $6.7 million Board of Water Supply corporation yard, a two-story structure. Expected completion date is December.

>> The $1 million relocation of the street-lighting section of the Department of Facility Maintenance to an existing Manana warehouse was completed last month. It cost an additional $440,000 to repair the old roof and $615,000 to install utilities.

Also envisioned by Mayor Jeremy Harris for the Manana property is a high-tech park. Harris spokeswoman Carol Costa said the City Council needs to approve rezoning, expected Wednesday, before soliciting proposals for that project.

Albert Fukushima, chairman of the Pearl City Neighborhood Board, is worried that the Manana project coupled with the opening of a Home Depot across Kamehameha Highway from Acacia Road will create a new bottleneck at that intersection. Home Depot is slated to open at the end of the month.

"At least it's the beginning of trying to relieve traffic," he said. "We need to monitor the situation after (the new road) opens. There are still some improvements to be made."

Fukushima said he is relieved the Pearl City Planning Task Force was created, at the behest of former Councilman Mufi Hannemann, to allow the community a chance to give its input.

For instance, neighbors were able to cut down the number of buses going into the bus barn by 100, he said.

He noted also that one of the early plans for Manana called for it to be used as a cemetery, a prospect frowned on by area residents.

The city in 1994 bought Manana and Pearl City Junction -- the Home Depot site -- for $109 million to help the Navy pay for the Ford Island bridge.

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