Officials are seeking feedback on two transportation projects in Nanakuli — a state proposal for a temporary contraflow lane to relieve afternoon traffic congestion and a city plan to relocate and remove some bus stops along Farrington Highway.
State Department of Transportation officials are working on plans for a contraflow lane in Nanakuli to start this summer. The pilot project would change one eastbound lane to a westbound lane on Farrington Highway from 3:30 to 7 p.m. weekdays from Piliokahi Avenue to near Helelua Street.
At the Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board meeting last month, Ed Sniffen, deputy director of DOT in charge of the Highways Division, outlined details of the contraflow plan.
The project would cost about $300,000 per year, 80 percent of which would be federally funded. Sniffen estimated that about 50,000 vehicles use Farrington Highway on average every day and that the afternoon ratio westbound compared to eastbound is 4 to 1, so the contraflow would help to balance the streams.
Sniffen told neighborhood board members that eastbound left turns would need to be restricted during the contraflow, but added that officials have mapped a detour that uses the “bridge to nowhere,” which is part of the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Route that provides a connection over Nanakuli Stream, and side street routes through Nanakuli, Mano and Haleakala avenues. He said the department is looking into ways to improve pedestrian safety on those streets to address residents’ concerns about increased traffic.
The city requested that the board pass a resolution requesting the use of the bridge during contraflow operations. Board members voted to support the resolution last month.
Some residents expressed concern with the inconvenience to eastbound drivers, the safety of those living on the streets where cars will be detoured and how bus operations would be affected.
“Many of our people, especially when you look at the high school … they get a lot of activities and they got a lot of other things happening,” said resident Alice Greenwood. “I’m just concerned because you get three lanes going Waianae and one lane going town.”
Sniffen said there are trade-offs to the contraflow lane. He added that DOT is working with Oahu Transit Services to mitigate effects on bus stops and service.
“I’m just trying to look for something that we can do operationally now that could help,” Sniffen said. “I don’t think it’s going to take care of all of the vehicles. (But) we’re going to try to make sure that everything is as safe as possible.”
DOT is also working on widening Farrington Highway from Nanakuli to Haleakala avenues to add a new lane for left turns. The targeted completion is April 2017 and officials are considering extending the project to Hakimo Road. Sniffen said the contraflow would not be necessary once the turn-lane project is completed but added that he is looking into a possible contraflow option from Helelua Street to Hakimo Road after that.
Several residents voiced their support for the project, while recognizing that the contraflow would be an inconvenience to some traveling eastbound. Honolulu police Maj. Kurt Kendro said the contraflow is “a great solution.” State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha) called the proposal “fantastic.”
“We no can get the genie in the bottle for just make everything perfect for us,” said resident DeMont Conner. “If we looking to solutions sometimes we got to bite something so that something else can be alleviated.”
Sniffen is scheduled to discuss the contraflow lane project at the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Waianae District Park. Residents can email feedback and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 587-2160.
The city Department of Transportation Services is also making changes to some bus stop locations in Nanakuli due to efforts by the state to remove two crosswalks on Farrington Highway not located near traffic signals to alleviate safety concerns. DTS may eliminate the mauka and makai bus stops at Farrington Highway and Laumania Avenue. Those bus stops would not be replaced due to low ridership.
But city officials are considering several options to move two bus stops on Farrington Highway at the Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Buses that stop at these locations have high ridership numbers — an average of about 930 per day — and eliminating them would force residents to walk several blocks to the next stop, said Sandra Abelaye of DTS.
Abelaye told Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board members at a meeting last month that if the crosswalk is removed but the bus stops remain, residents would be forced to jaywalk. She said an option the department is leaning toward involves relocating the mauka bus stop to Lualualei Naval Road, which is by a traffic signal, and consolidating the makai stops at the Sack N Save and Maaloa Street to Lualualei. The board’s Transportation Committee voted last month to support this option.
Other options include eliminating both Sack N Save bus stops, and relocating the mauka stop to Lualualei and eliminating the makai stop.
“These bus stops have very high ridership but that crosswalk is very dangerous to cross,” Abelaye said. “We need to accommodate our riders there as best we can and in the most safe manner.”
The crosswalk near Sack N Save was the site of a fatal accident in 2003 when a man and his 7-year-old son were struck by a van while trying to get to the grocery store. Residents had called for street lighting and other safety measures.
“I think any way to make it safer to cross Farrington Highway especially when it’s at a light saves lives,” said board member Tercia Ku, who rides the bus every day.
DTS wants to make the changes in the summer but still needs to coordinate with DOT. The department is scheduled to make a presentation on the bus stop changes at Tuesday’s Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board meeting. The Honolulu Police Department, the city Department of Emergency Management and the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization are also expected to present updates on Waianae traffic improvements at the meeting.