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Hawaii News | Whatever Happened To

Roads await nonskid coating to inhibit drifters

  • BRUCE ASATO / 2010
    Rick Ralston is among Round Top Drive residents concerned about the practice of drifting by drivers on S-curves along the winding road. Ralston says the problem has eased in the past year.
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Question: Whatever happened to plans to install nonskid coating on roadways in Tantalus to deter drifting?

Answer: The project is scheduled to take place in the spring, according to John Steelquist, chairman of the Makiki-Lower Punchbowl-Tantalus Neighborhood Board.

"We’ll see how it works," he said.

For years, the S-curves of Tantalus and Round Top drives have attracted drivers who seek the thrill of sliding sideways, called drifting, across the center line on the roadway.

Last year, the city set aside $175,000 in the capital improvements budget to install a sandpaper-like nonskid coating to sections of the road frequented by drifters.

Some residents said drifting has diminished, partially due to an increased police presence, but the problem persists.

"The drifting is not as bad as it used to be," said Tantalus resident Rick Ralston, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 25 years.

Last year, Ralston said about a half-dozen drifters would congregate at the S-curves, accompanied by about 20 spectators. Some would serve as lookouts.

Ralston said drifting caused near head-on collisions.

Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city Department of Transportation Services, could not be reached for comment.

Last June, Mike Kitchens, track coordinator of the Kalaeloa Raceway Track, warned the project would only serve to challenge drifters. He said drifters use public roads because there is no safe place to practice skidding techniques.

In August, Kalaeloa Raceway Track opened with plans to have an area within the track available for drifting sometime after June.

"These guys are screaming for it right now," Kitchens said.

Kitchens and other performance motorsports enthusiasts had been working to open the track after the Hawaii Raceway Park closed in 2006.

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This update was written by Rosemarie Bernardo. To suggest a topic for "Whatever Happened To …", write the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail cityeditors@staradvertiser.com.

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