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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2001

Kailua school access road has city, state split

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KAILUA — In another measure of community endorsement for a proposed access road to Kailua High School, Ameron Hawai'i and RCI Construction Corp., Pacific, have announced their willingness to donate toward the construction, but neither the state nor city have yet committed to the project.

Citing the school system's inability to maintain the road once it's built, Mike Heh of Kailua and Joe Ryan of Waim?nalo have asked Mayor Jeremy Harris to make the road part of the city's infrastructure. The road, from Kalaniana'ole Highway, would traverse state land belonging to the prison system.

Making the road part of the city system seems logical, Heh said, noting that all roads leading to the school within the Pohakupu subdivision are city owned.

The road is necessary because increased traffic — for classes, church services, sporting events and other activities — has made the area unsafe, said Heh, a Pohakupu resident. Neighborhood boards for Kailua and Waimanalo, community associations and Friends of Kailua have endorsed the roadway.

Heh and others had asked the city for backing on the project earlier this year. Neither the mayor or Cheryl Soon, acting director of the city Department of Transportation Services, objected to the idea for an additional roadway, but they said the state should build it.

On May 29, Heh and residents of Waim?nalo and Kailua met with state officials and received a parallel response: While the state representatives said they thought an access road was a good idea, they suggested asking the city to construct the road, Heh said.

"The school is stuck," Ryan said. "If you take away books to build this road, it's no longer a good idea."

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the mayor has forwarded the latest request, made June 5, to Soon for evaluation.

"The community doesn't care about whose responsibility it is to build the road," Heh said. "We just want one of them, or together, to step up to the plate and respond to the thousands of residents who will benefit from this."

The cost for a 350-foot long road starting behind a Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility building at the rise on the makai side of Kalaniana'ole Highway has been estimated at $3 million.

Parents dropping students off or picking them up at Kailua High are funneled to two roads: Ulumanu Drive through Pohakupu or Akiohala Street through Enchanted Lake. During a one-hour peak drop-off time, 668 cars entered or exited on Ulumanu, a 17-foot-wide road, Heh said.

Motorists are running over pets, hitting mailboxes, speeding and scaring elderly pedestrians, he said.

Other entrances to Pohakupu were closed during school drop-off time after two children walking to Maunawili Elementary School were hit by a Kailua student many years ago. For more than 20 years Pohakupu residents have sought a new access to the high school.

A groundswell of community and state government support has grown for the new access road, Ryan said.

About half of the 1,100 Kailua students come from Waim?nalo, he said. If these people could enter from the new access road, traffic would be lighter on Ulumanu and at the intersection at Castle hospital.

"It often takes 20 or more cycles of the traffic light at the Castle hospital intersection for 200 cars to pass through the intersection," Ryan said.