Tuesday, January 9, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Deadly mix of uses for Leeward route must end

The fundamental reason for the terrible toll of traffic accidents along Farrington Highway on the Waianae Coast is fairly obvious:

A rout that serves as a neighborhood road also serves the community as a highway. Imagine vehicles routinely rocketing along at 50 or 60 mph through Kaimuki, Kahala or Kailua and you get the picture.

Farrington Highway is the only through road along that coast and must serve two purposes: It is a highway in and out of the area and it is a neighborhood road, servicing homes, businesses, parks and schools. The mix is deadly.

No one seems to have the perfect solution to this situation, for obvious reasons. Those who use Farrington for their daily commute are impatient with more stop signs, stop lights and crosswalks. Those who use it for neighborhood purposes want as much access as possible.

A long-term solution would be a separate Leeward highway, mauka of the existing beachfront route, which could be grade separated and safe for commuters. Then Farrington Highway could revert to its other role as a sleepy, slow coastline route.

The separate highway would also solve the Leeward Coast’s longstanding problem with emergency evacuations. When an accident or incident closes Farrington, there is no practical way in and out of the area.

But a new highway would be hugely expensive, perhaps as much as a billion dollars. It would also take years to complete and would not be popular with those who want to maintain the rural, less accessible lifestyle of the Leeward Coast.

In the meantime, the best course is to choose a primary role for Farrington Highway and then enforce that role in every way possible. Given that human lives are at stake, the choice seems obvious.

Farrington Highway cannot be a quick commuter route. Drivers will simply have to slow down and accept it takes time to get from one place to another along the Leeward Coast.

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