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Leaders' ride to Ko Olina closes roads

By Kevin Dayton / kdayton@staradvertiser.com

LAST UPDATED: 11:47 a.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011

Churchgoers trying to get to Sunday services became trapped in an unholy traffic mess on the H-1 freeway as police and military crews closed the westbound corridor to make way for motorcades carrying world leaders to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meetings at Ko Olina.

Wayne "Doc" Wilson, director of music at Christ Church Uniting Disciples and Presbyterians, had planned for a quick trip from his home in Makakilo to church in Kailua. Instead, he spent three hours in a bewildering traffic maze that diverted him to downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, Hawaii Kai and Waimanalo.

He didn't make it to church until after the service was over, and the choir had to perform without him.

"It was insane," said Wilson. "It was very frustrating because there was nothing I could do about it."

The Rev. David Kieffer, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church of Mililani, said two of his Sunday school teachers called to say they would not even attempt to navigate the traffic from Ewa to Mililani, and Kieffer said attendance at services Sunday was one-third to half below normal.

"I think they just decided to not even try," Kieffer said of his missing parishioners.

Police and the Secret Service closed overpasses, underpasses and the westbound lanes of the freeway from about 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. as the world leaders traveled from their hotels in Waikiki and Kahala to the Marriott in Ko Olina, said John M. Cummings III, a spokesman for the city's Department of Emergency Management. The Leaders' Meeting at Ko Olina was the last event of the six-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Surface streets in Waikiki were also shut down Sunday, Cummings said, and motorists reported that traffic backed up. The shutdown rippled out to areas well beyond H-1 as feeder roads to the freeway were also closed. Long traffic backups were also reported on the Honolulu-bound side of H-2.

A similar lockdown was carried out on the eastbound side of H-1 and other streets from Ko Olina to Waikiki shortly after 4:30 p.m. as APEC leaders returned to Waikiki.

A city information officer used Twitter, a social media site, to urge motorists to use alternate routes if possible and to "be patient and drive with aloha." The freeway reopened shortly after 5 p.m., but city officials warned the public to expect additional closures Sunday night and this morning as world leaders depart from Oahu.

Police have said that the Secret Service closes the roadways when President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are traveling. The city advised Oahu motorists to be patient during the shutdowns and avoid traveling on or near the freeway, if possible.

Wilson said he realized he had a problem Sunday morning as he approached the overpass that routes eastbound traffic off H-1 toward H-3, and saw a military vehicle and police cars with flashing blue lights blocking the way.

Two lanes of cars were stopped cold, and motorists were backing up on the freeway to try to get out of the tangle, Wilson said. He veered right, figuring he could continue on the freeway and exit at Likelike Highway.

Not a chance. The Likelike and Pali highway overpasses were also blocked, and Wilson said he finally made a right turn at the Pali into downtown out of frustration. He was then herded by police and security all the way makai down to Ala Moana Boulevard and into Waikiki.

His car was searched by security at a checkpoint at the entrance to Waikiki, but Wilson was immediately instructed to reverse course and head back out of Waikiki the way he came, on Ala Moana Boulevard. He was finally able to turn to resume his travel toward Diamond Head, but encountered more police diversions that sent him down side streets all through town.

"I'm at the church still gathering up the strength to make the trip back home," Wilson said Sunday afternoon.

In West Oahu, security checkpoints were established around the Marriott hotel in Ko Olina, where the leaders met. Access to the security zone around the hotel was restricted to residents and local business owners and employees.

Traffic was also restricted on the Waianae-Ko Olina exit ramp from Farrington Highway, and APEC security also prompted the closure of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill and city refuse convenience centers Sunday.

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miz wrote:
30 police (motorcycles/patrol cars) escorts injured officer from Airport area to Queens Hospitol on , Sunday , 6:30pm ?
on November 14,2011 | 04:59AM
1coconut wrote:
I would like someone to explain why the VIP's cant travel by helicopter around Oahu. That way the traffic wont be a mess, we wont waste millions paying police and national guard troops and the security people wont have to turn Hawaii into a police state. I think when everything is accounted for APEC will be a financial disaster for the common people of Hawaii, not the boom as promised by our elected crooks. Neil and Carlile, I voted for you both last election but I wont make the same mistake again.
on November 14,2011 | 05:03AM
Graham wrote:
I did not vote for Neil or Peter, but the blame for APEC being held here is Hawaii's Favorite Son, Obama. He chose Honolulu for the conference.
on November 14,2011 | 09:08AM
kispest wrote:
You mean Kenya's favorite son?
on November 14,2011 | 11:18AM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
Wrong, Inouye. It happened well before Obama
on November 14,2011 | 03:42PM
kennysmith wrote:
to 1coconut you just had the right idea did you know that. why not by HELICOPTER AROUND OAHU any way?.
on November 14,2011 | 10:49AM
kennysmith wrote:
to 1coconut you just had the right idea did you know that. why not by HELICOPTER AROUND OAHU any way?.
on November 14,2011 | 10:49AM
Anonymous wrote:
I would be interested to read an article that tried to get a handle on the cost of APEC road detours to travelers in terms of missed flights and rebooking fees (and potentially having to pay for addt'l accommodation). I was at HNL on Sunday and it was a madhouse. The Hawaiian Airlines customer service rep told me she herself was an hour and a half late b/c of the road closures, and half the staff wasn't there when the shift started that morning. She said there were TONS of missed flights. I doubt Hawaiian comped all those flight changes.
on November 14,2011 | 06:25AM
mijlive wrote:
what are they going to do with the millions of dollars worth of "antique" light poles sitting in a lot in mapunapuna?
on November 14,2011 | 06:33AM
SmedleyFerndock wrote:
Closing the freeway was advertised and expected by residents. I am not saying this was acceptable but we were forewarned. There were no alternate routes available, so even planning ahead turned out not to be an alternative. Closing all overpasses and underpasses effectively cut Oahu into two sections with a DMZ. The backup caused by the unexpected closures of overpasses and underpasses from Waikiki to Koolina was not expected and led to complete gridlock. Closing the overpasses and underpasses even to pedestrian traffic was unacceptable. Honolulu demonstrated that it is unable to effectively conduct normal business and cater a meeting as large as APEC. As a voter I would look upon any politician suggesting that Honolulu or Hawaii do this again in an undesirable candidate.
on November 14,2011 | 06:41AM
Wailuku wrote:
They also closed the H-2 to Wahiawa/North Shore-----WHY???? That route is totally separate from H-1 going to Ko Olina. Whoever made that decision is an idiot!
on November 14,2011 | 06:42AM
Leewardboy wrote:
Many Waikiki restaurants and shops - no surprise - saw a dip in business. One employee interviewed on TV while stuck in traffic said he was told not to come in as things were slow & when he was called in - he was stuck in traffic. Said business was down 70% - if it was even half that for other businesses it was a devastating weekend financially. A restaurant mauka of Ala Moana Center saw a pronounced drop in business on Thursday, Friday and Saturday - which should have been the busiest three days of the week given the holiday. 2000 journalists expected but only "1200 or 1300" picked up their credentials (IDs) - with all the security, electronic and live surveillance & computerized lists - how come they can't come up with a hard number? Sounds like shibai to me. Millions $$$$$$$$$ spent, huge losses for many businesses in the area, deals and policies which only benefit the big corporations. The loud sucking sound you hear is the APEC conference vacuuming up our tax dollars for some pie in the sky "future return". The amount of money and resources wasted on APEC would have gone a long way toward getting the homeless off the streets - instead they were swept out of view of the APEC "elite" so as not to taint the rosy picture of a perfect Hawaii. In short APEC has been a fiasco for the people of Hawaii and a disaster for the Pacific area.
on November 14,2011 | 07:49AM
LL808 wrote:
The city/county and state and whoever put a spin on this thing as short and long-term gains, short with additional $ for our local businesses and long-term reputation as a place to do business. However, they really understated the cost of this including... I thought I read somewhere with the $18million for the police... huh? Local businesses suffered greatly especially those that were blocked off from walk and drive-in traffic. I am for long-term, but why not tell it like it is! Don't you love when they can throw our money around; it's not theirs so why not... and STOP the USELESS RAIL; we know it is to line the pockets of the developers, nothing more, won't reduce traffic... and still people believe that it will... I am pretty darn fed up with our government and at all levels... I voted for Carlise and that was a huge mistake, I didn't vote for Abercrombie and rightly so...
on November 14,2011 | 08:20AM
cojef wrote:
What a fiasco, and now the I told you so's are starting pour out. Yes, marshalling out the police police for the various motorcades are not cheap. Just think about the overtime hours that had been incurred and monies had to be doled out. Lots of luck, Hawaiian taxpayers, you are not getting any kokua from the Feds. The State And County/City budgets wil be in the RED for long time. Ssshish what waste!
on November 14,2011 | 10:51AM
honopic wrote:
An hour and a half drive to get from Dole Cannery to Kaimuki was not my idea of a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
on November 14,2011 | 10:53AM
HoldEverything wrote:
It would be interesting to see what APEC really cost Hawaii in terms of revenue LOST to Hawaii and its businesses--stores, restaurants and the like--as well as lost man-hours of work resulting from people delayed in traffic or by road closures, and the cost of gas lost idling in traffic. And, of course, the cost of city services for police, fire, hospitals on-call, training for volunteers, and on and on. The amount would probably be mind blowing. But, hey, it's all about promoting Hawaii as a place to do business, isn't it? Ridiculous. Why would we even contemplate trying to position Hawaii that way? We're not a place for business, not even for those of us who do business here.
on November 14,2011 | 11:31AM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
Hawaii made out like bandits. We got a ton of federal money, plus two tons from foreign governments. Full hotels. Overtime for PD and others.
on November 14,2011 | 03:44PM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
Why did the APEC leaders have to go to Ko Olina anyway? Couldn't they just have had their final meetings at the Convention Center> At the most, they were at ko Olina for six hours---was it worth all the hassle , disruption, and (most importantly) tax-payer expense?
on November 14,2011 | 01:01PM
kennysmith wrote:
i need to say this so i just don't want any one to get mad at me ok, this APEC IS OR WAS A BIG FAT JOCK TO EVERY ONE ON OAHU/HONOLULU/WAIKIKI for or could not get to work or do there thing in the area of the convention center or waikiki beach. i am real sorry for this that is comeing from me.
on November 14,2011 | 04:28PM
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