Ways to make Kaukonahua Road safer under discussion
By Scott Ishikawa
City officials and community leaders met yesterday to try to find some way to make one of O'ahu's most dangerous roads safer.
The meeting at the Council Committee Room at Honolulu Hale was prompted by an April 12 accident along Kaukonahua Road that claimed the lives of three Mililani High School students when their car slammed head-on into another vehicle about 1 1/2 miles south of Thomson Corner.
Seven people have died in accidents along the narrow, winding two-lane road between Wahiawa and Waialua since Feb. 21.
Maj. William Gulledge, commander of the Honolulu Police Department's Wahiawa patrol district, said 20 fatalities have occurred along Kaukonahua since 1994.
Gulledge said he has stepped up patrols to stop speeding and drunken driving in the area. But because the road is narrow, he said it's difficult to post officers along Kaukonahua Road and pull vehicles over.
Wahiawa police have handed out 140 citations along that stretch of road since the last fatal accident.
"Apparently, people don't seem to be getting the message," he said.
City transportation director Cheryl Soon gave some short-term suggestions yesterday that the city is considering. They include:
- Lowering the speed limit along Kaukonahua (ranging from 35 to 45 mph) by 10 mph.
- Making the entire stretch of road a "no passing zone."
- Adding "rumble strips" along four portions of Kaukonahua where several fatal accidents have occurred to slow down drivers.
Soon said the traffic signs and devices needed for the recommendations would cost about $400,000.
A more expensive, long-term alternative would realign the trouble spots along Kaukonahua, but would cost at least $1 million.
City Council member Rene Mansho brought up a proposal she floated in 1997 to make Kaukonahua Road one-way, but Soon said doing so would only encourage more speeding along the two-lane road.
"Changes would also have to be made to Kamehameha Highway to handle the additional traffic," Soon said.
Community members also added their input to the traffic safety problem.
Wahiawa Neighborhood Board member Daniel Neyer called for more drainage improvements near Kaukonahua to keep water and mud off the road surface.
Thomas Shirai, a North Shore resident and member of the O'ahu Burial Council, suggested spiritual intervention to help resolve the problem.
"These are all great ideas, but one thing I never hear is that road needs to be blessed," Shirai said. "That road has a history of wrongdoing and (Hawaiian) cultural affiliation."
Mansho, who organized the meeting, said another meeting is set for 9 a.m. Monday to prepare recommendations that will be presented at a series of community meetings.