Only month left to map out plan to beat the jams
By Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Staff Writer
Light summer traffic soon will be a thing of the past.
By the end of August more than 200,000 students from public and private schools and the University of Hawai'i will start classes, and the back-to-school rush is expected to clog highways.
The state Department of Transportation on Tuesday launched its annual "Beat the School Jam" campaign to remind commuters about the increase in traffic associated with the start of a new school year and to suggest ways to cope with it.
"We're advising all of the folks that do travel our highways and streets ... to look at alternative means of transportation," said DOT Director Rod Haraga, who encouraged commuters to carpool or take the bus.
Jolette Apela, a 20-year-old senior at Hawai'i Pacific University who commutes from Pearl City, doesn't need to be convinced.
"Even if I had a car, I wouldn't drive into town," she said. "The traffic is insane."
Commuters also are advised to leave earlier or later to avoid peak traffic times.
Kapi'olani Community College student Michelle Lee said she's preparing herself for the long drive from her Kailua home.
"In the summer, I can get to school in a half-hour," she said. "But when the fall semester starts on Aug. 25, I'll be spending a good hour and 15 minutes on the road."
Haraga also suggested that drivers keep their cars are in good working order to avoid breakdowns on the highway and becoming a potential road hazard.
As for a long-term solution to the traffic, Haraga said a transportation task force convened by Gov. Linda Lingle is looking at alternatives and will offer recommendations soon.