Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 18, 2003

Report looks at getting around in Waikiki

 •  Map (opens in new window): Making Waikiki more livable

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

The city has completed its Waikiki Livable Community Project, Livability & Mobility Report, a comprehensive study intended as a reference for revitalizing Waikiki and making it a better place for the people who live there.

A new city study looks at traffic on both streets and sidewalks in Waikiki.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

The 108-page document, which will be released tonight at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel, looks at all aspects of transportation in Waikiki from streets and sidewalks to buses, cars, taxis and delivery trucks with a focus on putting the pedestrian first.

The report divides Waikiki into districts and includes eight pages of proposed projects with some for each of the areas, including renovating buildings; removing overhead utility lines; widening sidewalks; improving bike paths, signage and street lighting; and adding parking.

It details improvements for residential streets and recommends moving some loading zones onto side streets and restricting hours for larger vehicles on Kuhio Avenue.

The project was financed by $700,000 in federal grants and took more than two years of work, including hundreds of hours collecting and analyzing data, and dozens of public meetings.

City transportation director Cheryl Soon said the report is not a master plan for development, but a step in the continuing evolution of Waikiki.

Public presentations

The city will give several presentations today and Saturday on its Waikiki Livable Community Project Final Livability & Mobility Report. Presentations will be held at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel:

• Today in the O'ahu Ballroom, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.

• Saturday in the Kaimuki Ballroom, 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

For information, call Tracy Fukuda of Wilson Okamoto Corp. at 946-2277 or e-mail tfukuda@wilsonokamoto.com. Or visit the City's Waikiki Livable Community Project Web site.

"I don't see this as the last-ever piece of work in Waikiki, and I don't see it as having all the answers," Soon said. "But I see it as a solid piece of work that contributes to the discussion and has some outstanding ideas, many of which will happen.

"This was the most comprehensive look at the uses of both the roads and the sidewalks that has ever been done in Waikiki," Soon said.

Waikiki has evolved from a playground for Hawaiian royalty in the early 1800s to the romanticized image of beach boys and barefoot bars in the 1920s and '30s to a concrete jungle in the '60s and '70s, Soon said. The report is an attempt to continue recent revitalization efforts including the widening of Kuhio Beach, rebuilding the Kapi'olani Park bandstand, and public events such as Sunset on the Beach to bring residents back to the area.

The late George Kanahele's book "Returning Hawaiianess to Waikiki," has been used as a guide in bringing history back to the largely tourist area, Soon said.

"The report is a solid contribution at this point in time of the evolution of Waikiki in the post-George Kanahele era, and the challenge is there is much more to be done," she said.

Soon said the report contains data from first-ever studies in Waikiki including pedestrian counts along Kuhio and Kalakaua avenue sidewalks, a comprehensive bicycle count and a detailed loading-zone survey.

Waikiki Neighborhood Board chairman Robert Finley attended some of the meetings but hasn't seen the final report. Finley said it is important that planners look at improving the quality of life for residents, not just tourists.

"They looked at traffic, sidewalks and lighting in the Kuhio to Ala Wai portion of Waikiki which doesn't get a whole lot of attention really," Finley said. "I'm interested to see what it comes up with, but what concerns me is there is no funding to go along with doing any of it. I'd hate to see this as just one more study that sits in a library full of studies."

Soon said the report will not be left to collect dust.

The city is moving forward with its Kuhio Avenue beatification project and Mayor Jeremy Harris will likely include more capital improvement projects for Waikiki in his final budget, which he will present to the City Council next year, Soon said.

"This is not a master plan that says do all these 400 things," she said. "This is a report, and different champions will have to pick up projects. Some, no one will pick up and they will never happen.

"The issue of sitting on the shelf is not one I worry about. I believe there are many, many residents, people in the tourist industry and people that love Waikiki and want to make good things happen there."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.

• • •