By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
KAILUA — When Kailua High School opened last week, neighbors knew they had about a week before hundreds of cars started passing through the Pohakupu community each day to drop off and pick up students.
"It's not as rowdy the first few days," said Barbara Ipson, who has lived in the community for 40 years. On bad days drivers race to the top of the hill past her home on Ulupi'i — some side by side. Ipson has seen several wrecks, one when a car plowed into four mailboxes before missing her daughter "by a whisker."
But all of that may come to an end as the state progresses on plans for a new access road to the campus from Kalaniana'ole Highway near the Women's Community Correctional Center.
A consultant for the project is seeking public comments. Perry Small, project manager with Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., said any relevant concerns would be addressed in the project's Draft Environmental Assessment.
After years of community pressure to build a new entrance to the campus, the state released funds last year to begin the project. The consultant said if comments are received by Sept. 5, he can respond.
"It is anticipated that after project construction, most traffic would access the school directly from Kalaniana'ole Highway instead of passing through the Pohakupu subdivision," Small wrote in a letter seeking comments.
The Department of Accounting and General Services project calls for a two-lane, 24-foot- wide road that's about one mile long. The road would come off the highway, pass through the correctional center property and enter at the back of the school, Small said.
DAGS did not respond to requests for comment on the project.
Some of the preliminary findings of the study indicate that there are no major issues surrounding the project site, Small said, adding that any new comments as a result of the letter could change the outcome.
Mike Heh, who lives on the corner of Ulupi'i and Ulumanu, has championed this project for close to six years. Heh said he's hopeful, but he won't say it's a done deal.
"I would never say that because you just never know," Heh said. "But I'm more than hopeful that after 30 years we're going to see the right thing done."
The road was promised more than 30 years ago when the school switched from an intermediate to a high school. Now hundreds of students traverse the 19-foot-wide substandard Ulumanu Drive to get on campus, he said.
Some 25 years ago access on Ulupi'i and Ulupuni streets was blocked after a motorist struck a child heading to Maunawili Elementary School. Waimanalo residents now go through the junction at Castle Medical Center and onto Ulumanu.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org.