Brush has been cleared and a fence will be installed on a 200-yard-long strip of city-owned land running alongside Kamehameha Highway across from popular Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, city officials said.
Work started last week and will continue this week as part of an initial effort to increase safety, provide better beach access, and improve traffic conditions along the section of highway, the Honolulu City and County Department of Parks and Recreation said in a news release Monday.
There has historically been a notorious traffic bottleneck at the section of two-lane road, where hundreds of thousands of visitors a year park on the dirt strip and cross the street to view the honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles, that haul up on the sands.
The section of highway has no guardrails, crosswalks, stop signs or traffic lights; a 10-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured while crossing there in August 2019.
The installation of the fence, which will delineate city property from adjacent pasture land, is scheduled to begin tomorrow, DPR said, with about 1,200 linear feet of chain link fencing to be erected.
During the construction of the fence, scheduled to be completed by the end of the month, parking near the construction access point will be restricted, the agency added.
“The installation of the fence on the City’s property is part of a larger, long term plan under the State Department of Transportation to improve traffic and pedestrian safety along this stretch of highway,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in the statement. “I am encouraged that the plan is moving forward as this is a very heavily trafficked area, and we need to make it safer and more welcoming for surfers and beach-goers.”
In 2015, a coalition obtained an injunction requiring removal of the barricades blocking access to the parking.
“We’re very happy they’re moving the (old) fence back and putting in a new fence to make room for more parking and (for) installation of guardrails to block haphazard pedestrian crossing,” said Honolulu attorney Bill Saunders, a member, along with fellow surfers Reno Abellira, Jock Sutherland, Keone Downing and Bill Martin of Save Laniakea Coalition, which sued the state in 2014 for denying public beach access after the Department of Transportation blocked off the roadside strip with barriers to prevent parking.
In June, a settlement was reached between the plaintiffs and the state, in which the city played a part.
”I want to thank the mayor, he was helpful,” Saunders said, noting that Caldwell hosted a meeting between the parties to work on an agreement.
DPR’s announced other interim solution measures may include installing guard rails along the mauka shoulder of the highway, and the installation of crosswalks and signage near the entry and exit points of the mauka parking lot to facilitate the safe passage of pedestrians across Kamehameha Highway.
Interim measures may be in place for at least one year, unless unsafe conditions arise the area require further action, DPR said.