Students from Kapolei High School crossed the intersection of Panana Street and Makakilo Drive yesterday. Each day, students who are picked up and dropped off by a school bus at the same spot must face speeding vehicles along Makakilo Ridge.

Traffic-calming delays
frustrate Makakilo

A dispute hampers efforts to slow
traffic along Makakilo Drive

The plan for a $20,000 demonstration project to slow traffic along Makakilo Drive, where a 15-year-old boy was killed in April, has been ready for two months, long before area public schools were set to return after summer vacation in mid-July.

chart But miscommunication and confusion among city officials and neighborhood board members have delayed the project, angering some Makakilo residents, who say speeding on the thoroughfare -- flanked by school bus stops and an elementary school -- is not getting any better.

"I don't know what it's going to take. I hope it's not another death," said Carolyn Golojuch, who holds signs every Monday morning on Makakilo Drive urging drivers to slow down.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday, though, that the city's top priority for Makakilo Drive was not the traffic-calming project, but placing 106 florescent school zone signs along the roadway.

So far, the city has put up 56 signs, and it plans to have the remaining signage up by Friday. "I'd be concerned if we were doing nothing," he said, "but the priority was the signage. We can get to traffic calming as the next thing."

Hannemann also said it is important to get plenty of public comment on the plan to avoid a repeat of what happened two years ago, when the city scrapped a permanent traffic-calming project for Makakilo Drive, which had funding, after dozens of residents and the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board strongly opposed it.

Dena Ackerman, whose 15-year-old son, Nathan Curry, was killed April 4 when he tried to cross Makakilo Drive to catch a school bus, said the community is more united this time around.

Kioni Dudley, president of the Friends of Makakilo, disagreed.

Already, he said, 42 Makakilo residents in his organization have sent letters to city Transportation Services Director Ed Hirata asking that the Makakilo Drive traffic-calming project be scrapped. About 1,000 cars travel on Makakilo Drive during the morning rush hour.

Ackerman and her husband had been pushing for traffic-calming measures to be in place on Makakilo Drive before Mauka Lani Elementary returned three weeks ago. They said the demonstration's setup would not take long, as it would likely involve plastic barriers or cones.

"Whatever it takes, I'm going to keep going until they get it (a demonstration)," Ackerman said. "This whole area is a school zone. That is why we're asking for the traffic calming."

The speed limit along Makakilo Drive is 25 mph in most places, with a portion at 35. A city traffic survey conducted in April during morning rush hour showed about 37 percent of motorists traveled between 26 and 30 mph on Makakilo Drive, 35 percent traveled between 31 and 35 mph, and 12 percent drove up to 40 mph.

Less than 2 percent traveled about 10 mph above the speed limit.

Hirata, who ordered the speed count, said the thoroughfare's traffic-calming project has been delayed for two months because the city cannot get on the neighborhood board's agenda.

He said requests from his office to make a presentation before the board were denied in June and July and that the project cannot go forward without public input, a provision of the demonstration's funding. He also declined to release the details of the plan, saying the board must hear them first.

Board Chairwoman Maeda Timson disputed Hirata's account, saying the city did not approach her about making a presentation on the traffic-calming project.

"Our agenda's already filled? This is news to us," Timson said. "I have no idea what he's talking about."

But board member George Yamamoto said he told the city that the board would not have a quorum in June, though he never discouraged officials from making a presentation. In July, he said, he told a city transportation official that Hirata could make a presentation to the board, but the department never followed up.

Timson said she was under the impression that the city had no need to return to the board. Rather, Timson said, Hirata and City Councilman Nestor Garcia, whose district includes Makakilo, pledged to convene a meeting on the project for residents who live along Makakilo Drive.

No such meeting has been held, and Hirata said none is in the works.

He is trying to get on the board's Aug. 31 agenda but has received no word from the neighborhood board. Garcia could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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