Kailua Road alteration awaits traffic statistics
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
KAILUA Bowing to the concerns of residents, the Kailua Neighborhood Board delayed a vote in support of a modified traffic circle near Kalapawai Market until the city completes traffic counts at the site.
Neighbors said they were not informed about the demonstration project to modify the intersection at Kailua Road and South Kalaheo Avenue. They complained that the project, intended to make the intersection safer, would give pedestrians a false sense of security and would affect property values in the area.
The project calls for installation of a stop sign at the intersection on South Kalaheo Avenue for Lanikai-bound traffic. A short segment of Kailua Road from the intersection to Kailua Beach Center would become one-way into town.
People who want to go to the beach park behind Kalapawai could still go down Kailua Road, turn right toward Lanikai and left onto Kalaheo at the cutoff in the intersection's triangle park.
Kailua Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Kathy Bryant Hunter said the board, which approved a broader, more expensive circle that has since been delayed, backed away from the simpler, cheaper project after neighbors showed up at its November meeting.
"There was no way the motion would pass because there were so many neighbors there who said they hadn't heard a whisper of it," Bryant-Hunter said.
Instead, the board voted to request more statistics from the city about traffic studies done at the site.
The city has just completed traffic counts, but that information has not been released, she said.
Bryant-Hunter expects the topic to come up again once the information is available and after as many people as possible have been informed.
The board will look at what makes sense and go from there, "knowing we're not going to make everybody happy," Bryant-Hunter said.
The intersection is heavily used by people going to Kailua and Lanikai beaches, including pedestrians hauling kayaks. Calls for some kind of control have been going on for years, but finding an acceptable solution has been difficult. A more substantial roundabout than the one just proposed has already been approved for the site but has been delayed pending completion of a sewer project.
Paula Franzmeier, who lives three homes from the intersection, said she would fight the modified circle proposal. Having first read about the project in The Advertiser, Franzmeier and some of her neighbors voiced their concerns at the board meeting Nov. 7.
"The No. 1 issue is safety and that stop sign would give a false sense of safety to pedestrians," Franzmeier said.
Lanikai-bound traffic would stop and people would proceed across the street, she explained, but the Kailua-bound traffic would not be required to stop, placing those pedestrians at risk.
She said she also fears that the change would prompt some motorists to cut across Ku'ulei Tract, a subdivision between Kailua Intermediate School and South Kalaheo, she said.
In addition, Franzmeier said, making Kailua Road one-way near the intersection going toward Kailua would prevent emergency vehicles from taking a direct route to the beach.
Finally, Franzmeier said, the changes would affect property values because as traffic begins to back up, she and others would be unable to get out of their driveways.
"This is my investment, my home" she said. "It would affect ... the value of my property."
Don Dymond, owner of Kalapawai Market, presented the proposal to the board and said he has obtained the backing of the Lanikai Association and businesses near the intersection.
Dymond said waiting for the city's statistics is a good idea and delaying the vote was appropriate.
But he doubted that the stop sign would affect property values.
"The proposal on the table will be a whole lot safer than it is now," he said.
"There's no assurance it's going to be perfect, but it is going to be better."
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 234-5266.