Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Kailua High outgrows access

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KAILUA - Waimanalo residents and neighbors of Kailua High School want a new access to the campus from Kalanianaole Highway that doesn’t go through a residential area.

With 1,100 students converging on the school every day from Waimanalo and Kailua, the 17-foot-wide main road to the campus through Pohakupu subdivision is choked with vehicles and pedestrians.

Many Kailua students are dropped off at another access through Enchanted Lake, but Pohakupu residents said the problem in their community is growing. Motorists are running over pets, hitting mailboxes, speeding and scaring elderly pedestrians, said Mike Heh, board member of the Pohakupu-Kukanono Community Association.

"It’s a hazard you can’t even imagine unless you watch this outburst of traffic in the morning," Heh said. "It’s crazy. It’s very dangerous."

The association has been pleading for a new road for more than 20 years. Members have been meeting with Waimanalo residents who seek easier access to the campus, and the two groups have decided to hand-carry a formal request to the mayor and governor for financing for the planning and construction of a new road.

"Everybody agrees that an alternative road that doesn’t go through a residential area is a good idea," said Waimanalo Neighbor Board member Joe Ryan.

The Pohakupu-Kukanono Community Association conducted an informal automobile count for one hour during peak traffic flow and recorded 300 cars, Heh said. Traffic is also heavy during school functions, games and events.

Last year, Hope Chapel, with a 500-member congregation, began holding services on campus, Heh said.

"So essentially there’s no peace in the neighborhood," he said.

One reason for the problem is the shift in population, he said. When the school first opened, many of the students lived nearby and walked to school. Now close to 50 percent of the students come from Waimanalo, Heh said, and they would like to shorten their route to school.

Waimanalo residents can’t use the most direct route to the school on Ulupii Street because traffic is banned from turning right into Pohakupu from Kalani-anaole Highway. A hit-and-run accident involving schoolchildren led to the ban, he said.

So Waimanalo school traffic is frequently held up at Castle junction before turning onto Kailua Road and Ulumanu Drive, which is a straight shot into the school.

The drop-off on Akiohala Street in Enchanted Lake is also out of the way for people who head into Honolulu, said Juanita Schiltz, association board member.

"Either way it’s an inconvenience," she said.

At one time Akiohala, a dead-end street, was slated as an entrance to the high school and would have run through the campus and Pohakupu, hooking up with Kailua Road, but Pohakupu residents objected and now the high school doesn’t want a thoroughfare running through the campus, said Schiltz, a longtime Pohakupu resident.

Mary Murakami, school principal, said any new road would have to take into consideration students’ safety and campus security.

Another important issue is financing, and Murakami said she wouldn’t support it if the money came out of the Department of Education budget.

"I don’t think we should be diverting one penny away from school money," she said.

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