A city traffic-calming project for Wanaao Road in Kailua is expected to start Friday. The demonstration project includes using plastic barriers to narrow the street.

Traffic project
to start Friday

The three-month Kailua
demonstration aims
to curb speeding

A $10,000, three-month demonstration project aimed at slowing traffic along a busy Kailua street is expected to start Friday, despite hefty opposition from residents.


Ed Hirata, the city's interim Transportation Services Department director, said yesterday the Wanaao Road "traffic calming" project includes using four plastic barriers, which will narrow the 15-foot street by about 3 feet in an attempt to curb speeding.

Once the demonstration is complete, a public hearing will be held to get community reaction on whether the barriers work, Hirata said. The city would then decide whether to construct permanent concrete medians on Wanaao Road.

The decision could be made as early as June on the project that's expected to cost about $200,000.

It's estimated about 1,500 cars use the road daily. The road links Enchanted Lake and downtown Kailua.

Residents say the speed limit on Wanaao Road, set at 25 mph, is constantly being ignored, posing a safety threat.

"We have a very serious speeding problem on this street ... and it's getting worse," said Chuck Prentiss, a 20-year Wanaao Road resident and former Kailua Neighborhood Board member who helped plan the project with the city.

But others disagree about how bad the problem is.

"They've never proven that," said John McCarthy, an Enchanted Lake resident who has spoken out against the project.

He's concerned the proposed medians could impede fire trucks, limiting their ability to get into an oncoming lane to pass vehicles.

Faith Evans, chairwoman of Kailua Neighborhood Board's Transportation and Public Safety Committee, said the average speed for the street is about 32 mph -- 7 mph above the posted speed limit.

"I'm a little puzzled about it all," she said. "There were a few people that really wanted it (the traffic-calming project). Most people didn't want it."

Hirata said he decided to go ahead with the demonstration project because "there are people who still favor" the traffic-calming measures.

The demonstration project is a compromise following mediation sessions earlier this year between those in favor of the project, including city officials, and residents against it.

The city also agreed to scale down the size of the project.

Originally, the plan would have included installing landscaped bulb-outs, removed 67 parking spaces and added more of a curve to Wanaao Road.

The revised project has no bulb-outs or added curves and cuts 13 parking stalls.

It also has fewer medians than set out in previous proposals, Hirata said.

The revised plan narrows the street's 15-foot lanes to about 12 feet. The previous plan would have narrowed the lanes to 10 feet.

City & County of Honolulu

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