HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is saddened by the pedestrian collision August 1 that resulted in a young boy being transported to the hospital in serious condition. HDOT is confident that if the barriers were in place this collision would not have happened.
A timeline of the attempts to improve traffic safety and flow on Kamehameha Highway at Laniakea Beach follows:
- 2011 – a community-based task force is assembled to address solutions to shoreline erosion and roadway reliability for Kamehameha Highway fronting Laniakea Beach and Chun’s Reef. The Kamehameha Highway Barrier Project, Vicinity of Laniakea Beach is developed in response. Other alternatives discussed include parking on City and County of Honolulu property adjacent to the highway. Alternatives on City land are considered and dismissed as HDOT could not meet City’s indemnification requirements (determined in meetings with City Corporation Counsel in February and June 2012).
- December 23, 2013 – HDOT installs an approximately 1,000-foot concrete barrier on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway to reduce random pedestrian crossings and pedestrian/vehicle conflicts at Laniakea Beach. The barriers were proven to reduce vehicular conflicts and maintain traffic flow on Kamehameha Highway.
- January 2, 2014 – Lawsuit filed by Save Laniakea Coalition and five individuals to remove the barriers.
- June 4, 2015 – First Circuit Court hears case (Civil No. 14-1-0005-01) against HDOT and issues injunction on July 8 requiring HDOT to remove the barriers.
- August 24, 2015 – HDOT moves the barriers; installs “no parking, stopping, standing, loading and unloading signs and continues working to obtain the Special Management Area (SMA) permit to reinstall the barriers.
- 2016 – HDOT begins draft Environmental Assessment to support the SMA permit application. In October, HDOT is informed that the proposed location for the Laniakea Barriers is likely within the Conservation District instead of the Special Management Area and is advised to consult with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).
- July 6, 2017 – HDOT submits Shoreline Certification application to DLNR. A community member files a Notice to Appeal and the shoreline certification request is denied on July 5, 2018, based on the earlier barrier installation being considered an unauthorized improvement.
- October 26, 2018 – HDOT submits second Shoreline Certification application with the Right of Entry agreement with the City attached as proof of the City’s authorization for HDOT to store the barriers. DLNR’s determination on this second application is due August 19, 2019.
- June 24, 2019 – HDOT’s legal representative offers an interim solution of reinstallation of the barriers with openings on either end and a marked crosswalk on the Waimea side.
- July 29, 2019 – The plaintiffs’ representative sends a counter proposal that would require taking of City land to add additional parking and room for a “waiting” lane.
Any construction option such as the counter proposal by the plaintiffs or those mentioned by area legislators as potential solutions, such as pedestrian overpasses, underpasses, and traffic signals require environmental approvals by law and sufficient funding.
In the meantime, HDOT continues to study a new road alignment that can be constructed when funding is available. In a July 26, 2019 meeting with City officials and area legislators it was determined that no additional funding was currently available for the proposed realignment. The preferred realignment is estimated at $65 million.
HDOT continued to pursue the barriers as an immediate means to improve safety and reduce congestion in the area; however, as HDOT has been told that the Shoreline Certification will likely result in a contested case hearing, we will remove the barriers. HDOT has now directed its consultant to pursue environmental clearance to move the road mauka within the highway Right-of-way to allow for limited parking on the makai side of the road. This measure is estimated to cost between $6-8 million and would take approximately 2-years to obtain the necessary environmental clearances.