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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 18, 2001

Residents oppose Kaukonahua Road safety proposals

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Transportation Writer

HALE'IWA — The city's recommendations to improve traffic safety along Kaukonahua Road did not generate much enthusiasm last night among North Shore residents.

About 75 people attending a meeting at Hale'iwa Elementary School strongly opposed lowering the speed limit along Kaukonahua from 45 to 35 mph, and were not enthusiastic about making the entire stretch between Wahiawa and Waialua a no-passing zone.

The meeting was prompted by an April 12 accident that killed three Mililani High School students when their car collided head-on into another vehicle south of Thomson Corner. Seven people have died in accidents along the narrow, winding two-lane road between Wahiawa and Waialua since February.

There have been 20 deaths on Kaukonahua since 1994.

While residents supported realigning the sharp turns along Kaukonahua, an informal survey done by City Council member Rene Mansho showed that an overwhelming majority opposed removing 14 trees to straighten the road. However, the survey did show that residents favored rumble strips along the center and shoulder of the road, and pullout areas for vehicles.

Police have stepped up patrols to stop speeding and drunken driving in the area. But because the road is narrow, it's difficult to post officers along Kaukonahua Road and pull vehicles over.

But Wahiawa police commander Major William Gulledge said his officers have handed out 1,200 speeding citations on Kaukonahua since the April 12 accident.

"On the night of the accident, we arrested another driver between Wilikina and Kaukonahua doing 91 (mph)," Gulledge said.

The city is considering short-term measures such as lowering the speed limit along Kaukonahua, making the entire stretch of road a no-passing zone, and adding rumble strips along four portions of Kaukonahua.

Those options would cost $400,000, and have been requested in the city's fiscal year 2002 budget.

A long-term solution costing about $1 million would realign Kaukonahua to straighten out the sharp turns and add roadside space where drivers can pull over to let others pass.

Area resident Ollie Lunasco agreed that speeding and irresponsible driving were the main problems. He also opposed reducing the speed limit or making the road a no-passing zone.

"I rode this road for 40 years; anything short of making the road straight is not going to solve our problem," Lunasco said. "Doing anything else is a waste of money."

Residents also supported more driver-awareness programs and increased policed presence.

Senate President Robert Bunda, D-22nd (Wahiawa, Waialua, Sunset Beach), asked the state Department of Transportation last month to make Kaukonahua part of the state's pilot program to photograph and cite speeders. The camera program is tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of the year.