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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Kapi'olani roadwork agenda is appreciated

Letter writer Kathleen Ebey recently complained on these pages of an experience all too familiar to many of us:

The writer was attempting to drive west on H-1 Freeway when, due to roadwork, she was diverted off the freeway and onto a surface street, in this case Nimitz Highway.

And naturally enough, there was roadwork under way on Nimitz. It was a classic case of can't-get-there-from-here.

Now, there are times when such overlapping roadwork is inevitable.

But far too often, it seems as if each roadwork project, be it city, state or private utility, marches to the beat of its own drummer, seemingly unaware of other projects.

Now, we know there is some cooperation among city and state and utilities on coordination and timing of projects to avoid precisely these kinds of headaches.

And there are times when government seeks to time its projects with the comfort and convenience of the driving public in mind.

Night road work is one good example of this. It avoids unnecessary construction delays during peak traffic times.

Honolulu city officials have just offered another example of what might be called critical thinking by project planners.

The city has scheduled a three-phase project of emergency sewer repairs on busy, almost always congested Kapi'olani Boulevard.

The work, between Pensacola and the intersection of Kapi'olani and Kalakaua, will close off the two center lanes and undoubtedly generate major frustration for drivers.

But here's where the smart thinking comes in. Environmental Services Director Frank Doyle says the city will pull out all the stops to finish the project by mid-October, when the huge new Wal-Mart store is expected to open and just before the madness of the holiday shopping season.

Under the best of circumstances, traffic on Kapi'olani and around the Ala Moana/Wal-Mart area will be horrendous. The last thing anyone needs is a major road project on top of all that.

So we applaud the city for approaching this as more than an engineering problem. It is also a problem for human beings trying to go about their business.

We need more such thinking.