Thursday, October 18, 2001

Ewa Neighborhood Board members hope to
alleviate long lines of traffic like the one
yesterday on Fort Weaver Road.

Ewa board calls for
construction delay to
focus on traffic problem

But developers say the problem
has always been a major focus

By Leila Fujimori

The Ewa Neighborhood Board has called for a moratorium on construction of more homes in the area until a solution to the traffic tie-ups on Fort Weaver Road can be found.

Board members voted 5-1 in favor of the measure last week, with two abstaining. It would ban any more construction in Ewa until more roadways are built to accommodate the increased traffic.

"We wanted to send a statement to developers, the state and the city that people in Ewa Beach are tired of being last," said neighborhood board member Pam Smith.

Daily commuters like Tesha Malama of Ewa Beach are fed up with trying to get on and off the H-1 freeway.

To avoid the bottleneck traffic on Fort Weaver Road, Malama leaves at 5:30 a.m. to travel 11 miles out of her way toward Kalaeloa (formerly Barbers Point) to get to work in Kalihi, saving her 20 minutes of travel time. After work she takes the Makakilo cutoff, an extra 11 miles out of her way.

"I think the developers are always the easiest target for their frustrations," said Vicki Gaynor, vice president of Haseko Homes Inc., developer of Ocean Pointe, a residential community of 4,850 single-family, townhouse and apartment homes being built over the next 15 to 20 years.

Gaynor said a number of improvements to Fort Weaver Road have been in progress, but because roadwork is being done during the night, residents are frustrated over lane closures, adding stacking lanes, synchronizing lights and resurfacing, in addition to commuter traffic.

"The state has been doing all of this work, and it's causing tremendous delays and tremendous frustration," Gaynor said.

Gaynor pointed to Haseko's contribution by its building of Ocean Pointe's portion of Kapolei Parkway, a section of roadway that would link Ewa and Kapolei.

Some would like to see Kapolei Parkway completed to provide an alternate route. But a key piece of that roadway must be completed by another developer.

Tosh Hosoda, senior vice president of planning with Gentry Homes Ltd., developer of Ewa by Gentry, said a moratorium would make it difficult to borrow money to build part of Kapolei Parkway for a proposed project.

Malama said the Ewa/Kapolei/Makakilo vision team will propose a plan at its Monday meeting to put $500,000 of vision team money to complete that section of roadway since Gentry would not fund the project.

"(Ewa's transportation problems) have been a major focus without a moratorium to get the job done," said Dan Davidson, coordinator of the Ewa Highways Master Plan Developers Group, which includes all major developers of the Ewa Plain. He said a master plan for the region's highways should be completed by 2010.

The Ewa Highways Master Plan includes widening Fort Weaver Road to six lanes; completion of Kapolei Parkway; completion of the North-South Road, including an interchange at the H-1 freeway; widening of the Kapolei side of Fort Barrette Road; improvements to the Makakilo and Palailai interchanges; and creation of a new Kapolei interchange.

The Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization adopted in April a plan critical to getting federal funds to complete the projects, Davidson said.

He said OMPO's policy has been to get the Ewa region its fair share of improvements.

"We want the Fort Weaver Road project at the top of the list," he said.

"There has to be a continued push by the community, developers, the state Department of Transportation and the city's Department of Transportation Services to continue to get the roads built and to get them built a lot more quickly," Davidson said.

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