LIHUE » Kauai County officials are focusing their efforts on a transportation plan aimed at decreasing the island’s traffic congestion and lowering its carbon footprint.
The Kauai Multimodal Land Transportation Plan, adopted by the Kauai Council in 2013, seeks to lower the number of vehicles on the road and promote other modes of transportation, such as walking and biking, The Garden Island reported.
“We shouldn’t just be putting all of our efforts into serving automobiles,” said Tommy Noyes, board member for Kauai Path, an organization promoting awareness for walking and biking. “It’s not efficient and not helping in the long run.”
In 2010, Kauai reported that 54 percent of transportation on the island took place in single-occupant vehicles. Officials are looking to reduce that figure to 39 percent by 2035.
The county’s efforts toward that goal have included expanding walking and biking paths and improving bus service. Another option being considered is limiting the number of rental cars to force visitors and residents to seek other modes of transportation.
“So it’s an integrated system and we’re looking at paths as one component in that,” Noyes said. “Further along in the development, we’ll be taking a significant percentage of travelers out of single-occupant vehicles and either into the bus system, longer distances with bicycling, or short trips on foot.”
Celia Mahikoa, executive on transportation for the county of Kauai, said more could be done to improve the bus system, but she acknowledged that finding the funding for transportation projects can be difficult.
“I’d be the first to say that we need to provide a much more user-friendly system if we want the public to use it,” Mahikoa said. “For the sake of everyone on the island, we need it, but it’s a challenge.”
The county is considering a 0.5 percent general excise tax to add to the 4 percent tax on purchases on Kauai. The revenue from the surcharge would be used for transportation projects.
Mahikoa and Noyes said they have already seen the impacts of the county’s transportation plan, with more people using biking and walking paths and public transportation.
“It all plays together and there are so many choices to be made by our decision-makers,” Noyes said. “It’s important they have the foresight to plan our future expansions.”