Kailua traffic circle proposed
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
KAILUA In the interest of safety, a businessman has proposed a modified traffic circle at the busy intersection of Kailua Road and South Kalaheo Avenue, which sees considerable pedestrian traffic to Kailua Beach and regular fender benders.
The plan includes a stop sign on South Kalaheo Avenue at the Kailua Road intersection for Lanikai-bound traffic and making the short segment of Kailua Road from the intersection to the Kailua Beach Center one-way into town.
The proposal could become a demonstration project if the city decides it is feasible, said Cheryl Soon, city director of the Department of Transportation Services.
"Conceptually, it's worth taking to the next stage to see if it can actually be designed out," Soon said, adding that a major concern is whether the changed traffic pattern would result in an increase in speed by motorists leaving Lanikai.
"If they can do this within the same speed, we can maybe give it a trial," she said.
The Kailua Neighborhood Board will consider the proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Kailua District Park Multipurpose Room.
The Lanikai Community Association has approved the preliminary plan, said Ned Dewey, the group's president.
"There's unanimous agreement that something needs to be done at the intersection," Dewey said. "We thought the modest changes that were proposed made good sense."
The intersection is known for minor traffic accidents and its many pedestrians, some of whom tow kayaks to the beach from a nearby rental business.
For years the community has asked for a remedy, including traffic lights, four-way stops and a traffic circle to curb problems. The city had proposed a traffic circle in 1998 and completed plans in 2000, but the work has been delayed until a sewer-line repair project can be completed.
Don Dymond, owner of Kalapawai Market, which sits at the intersection, said he made the latest proposal because the sewer project could last three more years, traffic is not improving and residents don't want the road dug up twice for the sewer and roundabout projects.
He said he sees at least two accidents at the intersection a month and every day witnesses dozens of pedestrians trying to walk on the street, which has no sidewalk or curb. If the short segment of Kailua Road became one-way, the city could expand the pedestrian path to the beach.
The project would require only paint and a stop sign, Dymond said.
"I've watched the intersection for years," he said. "It's a pretty hazardous intersection."
Aidan Schmer, owner of Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks at the Kailua Beach Center, said he liked the plan, which doesn't interfere with any entrances to the center. Cars going in either direction would have access to businesses there, plus pedestrians and his clients who cart kayaks to the beach would be safer, he said.
"I don't think it would have a negative effect at all," Schmer said.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 234-5266.