Traffic on Fort Weaver Road lines up near the intersection with Renton Road during an evening rush hour. With new housing developments continuing, residents complain traffic jams will only get worse.

As new homes go up,
so do commute times

Residents in Ewa say that road
improvements don't keep pace
with housing developments

By Lyn Danninger

As demand for housing increases and residents move into new developments, the hottest topics at nearby neighborhood board meetings are planning and zoning issues.

The City Council recently approved Castle & Cooke's proposal to rezone 104 acres in Mililani Mauka from agricultural to residential use. But neighborhood boards for the area passed resolutions calling for portions of land to be designated for additional park space and schools.

Residents say they are still waiting for these conditions to be met.

In Ewa, the neighborhood board requested the City Council enact a moratorium on constructing more homes in the area until roads are built to cope with the area's notoriously congested rush hour traffic along Fort Weaver Road.

Jeff Alexander, chairman of the Ewa neighborhood board, said the five-mile commute from Ewa Beach through 10 sets of traffic lights just to get to the freeway can take 20 minutes. Moreover, two more traffic lights are planned for the stretch. Residents are fed up, he said.

"Every place I go out here they say hurry up with the road," he said.

Neighborhood board requests at least serve to get the attention of developers and state and city officials even if they don't have the force of law, Alexander said.

In this instance, developers and politicians took notice and put together a working group to expedite solutions, he said.

At a recent board meeting, the board's request for the moratorium on building new homes was removed because it felt some progress was being made, he said.

Haseko Homes has started work on its section of North-South Road. A section at the end of Renton Road in Ewa Villages was paved by the city to add another access into Kalaeloa for drivers wanting to cut through to the freeway or Kapolei.

But Alexander said if sufficient progress is not seen by the board's August meeting, it's entirely possible that members could once again reinstate the moratorium request.

The master plan, which now has a 2006 timetable for a completion, calls for widening Fort Weaver Road to six lanes, completion of 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.

Developers have been trying hard to meet community needs, said Vicki Gaynor, vice president of Haseko Homes. They hope all segments of the roadway improvements can be completed before the 2006 deadline, she said.

At one point the timetable had been 2010. But going back 10 years or so, Alexander said he remembers when the original date for completion was 2000.

Between the city, state and the developers, Alexander sees it as a case of broken promises and foot-dragging all around.

"The city and state drag on their end," he said. "The developers say they help the community and they do, but that in no way offsets the congestion and overcrowding."

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