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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 17, 2006

City to re-stripe Hawai'i Kai road in effort to slow traffic

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

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A city plan to slow traffic along a steep road leading to the Mariners Ridge community in Hawai'i Kai calls for narrowed lane configuration.

"Wide lanes tend to encourage speeding," said Mike Oshiro, a traffic engineer with the city's Department of Transportation Services traffic engineer.

The city will re-stripe a stretch of two-lane Kaluanui Road so that the lane leading up the hill will be trimmed from its width of 20 feet to 14 feet, and the outside lane going down will be 12-feet wide with a 14-foot buffer lane.

Some area residents have been pushing for the change in lane configuration for nearly five years. The Mariners Ridge Traffic Safety Committee and the Mariners Ridge community association support the city's proposed pilot project. Still, some in the community are not convinced that it will do enough to make the road safer.

"It won't help," said Christa Gerlick, a 28-year resident of Mariners Ridge. "Most of the accidents occur going downhill. I want the road to be re-banked."

Banking the roadway along with installing a stop sign in both directions on Kaluanui Road at Ka'ahue Street and grooving pavement to make it less slippery surfaced as a favored option when residents of the ridge community were surveyed on the traffic problem. Other suggestions have ranged from installing slippery-when-wet warning signs, re-engineering the road, and installing speed bumps and reflectors on the middle of the roadway.

While no known serious injuries have occurred on Kaluanui Road, residents said they have counted more than 30 accidents since 1998. In 1999 alone, nine occurred at roughly the same curve midway up the steep roadway. In February, there were three accidents. And over the years, residents said, about 100 shower trees have been plowed over and replaced by out-of-control vehicles.

The city decided in March to pursue the lane configuration plan and has hired a consultant to draft the designs, Oshiro said. The entire project, including design work, re-striping and installation of candlestick-like cones along a one-third mile stretch of the center lane, is expected to cost not more than $100,000. The city plans to go out for bid by the end of the year and begin the restriping of the lanes in January, Oshiro said.

Natalie Iwasa, a regular bike rider around Hawai'i Kai, said she is concerned for other cyclists if this plan goes forward. She has submitted a petition containing more than 100 signatures to the city and to City Councilman Charles Djou urging reconsideration of the lane change plans.

"I'm baffled why the city is continuing to go ahead with the project," Iwasa said. "Not everyone is in agreement on the solution."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.