Community weighs in on Nanakuli contraflow lane project, one month after it went into effect

By: Jobeth Devera
Sep 12, 2016 10:05 PM

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – It’s been five weeks since the state Department of Transportation began its contraflow lane pilot project in Nanakuli and some residents still have concerns.
On Monday night, Ahupua’a o Nanakuli Homestead hosted a town hall meeting at Ka Waihona o Ka Na’auao Public Charter School.
Ed Sniffen, deputy director for the state’s Department of Transporation, and Senator Maile Shimabukuro were there to get feedback on the the project thus far.
Some Leeward coast residents proposed a permament added road on Farrington Highway, but for now, drivers only have an extra temporary westbound lane in the afternoons. 
“Before the contraflow, the traffic used to just stop and now we’re literally moving,” said Makaha resident Nancy Nicola. “I would beg them not to take it away from us.”
But having three westbound lanes leaves just one eastbound lane from 3:30 to 7 p.m.
“Making traffic coming in better has made traffic going out much worse,” said Disa Hauge, principal of Waianae High School. 
Hauge says since the cones went up in early August, her faculty and staff have suffered. “Most of our teachers do not live on the coast so they want out the second school gets out. So we’re having a real hard time to do things they normally stay to do after school.”
Honolulu firefighters were also among the crowd at the meeting. They’re concerned about their big trucks getting through the narrow lanes during an emergency.
“It’s other companies coming in to support them,” said Batallion Chief Paul Miguel with the Honolulu Fire Department. “When we have a building fire, we’re going to have multiple companies outside of this area coming this way.”
Sniffen and Shimabukuro reminded the crowd that the contraflow lane project is only temporary as they look for a permanent solution.
“In general, there’s twice as many vehicles going westbound than east, so from a system perspective it’s working, but we want to see what we can do to try and improve things for everybody,” said Sniffen.
“Eventually we’ll have a win win situation for all involved,” Shimabukuro said. 
The contraflow lane project will be in effect until summer 2017.
Copyright 2016 HawaiiNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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Residents weigh in on Nanakuli contraflow lane at lively town hall meeting


By Alexander Zannes (KHON)

Published: September 12, 2016, 9:16 pm Updated: September 12, 2016, 10:28 pm

It was meant to be a temporary solution to ease traffic for those heading east and home to West Oahu, but the contraflow lane running through Nanakuli continues to cause headaches for those drivers.
They made their voices heard at a town hall meeting at the Ka Waihona o ka Naauao public charter school cafeteria Monday night.

One person said that “people going home from work, or going to work in the morning, let me tell you, how many of you guys get high blood pressure? That causes high blood pressure! You ask my doc, he’ll tell you that.”

“How many of us sitting in traffic behaving, while our people is coming on to that dirt road, dusting us out and catching us while we’re sitting in traffic,” said another.

The meeting was filled with residents ready to weigh in on the contraflow lane. Officials call the contraflow a temporary solution and even say that, along with the growing pains, they have seen progress.

“The majority of the feedback has been in strong support,” said State Senator Maile Shimabukuro. “Most people on this coast are coming home, driving westbound in the afternoon, so for them I heard they gotten dramatic improvement. They finally actually see their kids before it’s dark. They’re able to have dinner with their family. They’re just so grateful.”

One more permanent solution that was discussed was turning a proposed fifth lane — part of a turning lane project — into a contraflow lane. This would make it three lanes westbound and two eastbound.

Some drivers report waiting much longer than usual to travel east. Residents like Naomi Peterson are hoping a fifth lane is a possibility.

“I feel like the current contraflow still has problems with it,” she said. “It backs up all the way from the freeway by Kapolei, and then when you’re coming in, it kind of helps, but when you end up by the shopping center, then the traffic just accumulates there.”

Ed Sniffen, deputy director of the state Dept. of Transportation’s highways division, answered questions, saying he’s doing everything he can to make the contraflow work for everyone going east as well as west.

“We’re saving about 10 minutes per driver, going through the contraflow area in the westbound direction,” he said, “but we’re also seeing an impact to the eastbound drivers, and we want to try to alleviate that.”

An area of concern that was also brought up at the meeting was for teachers. Waianae High School principal Disa Hauge says it’s hard enough to get teachers to come to the west side of the island without the extra traffic to contend with “because it impacts their family life in a negative way, and it makes them rethink if they want to stay on the coast and be teachers.”

Residents did say that having a police presence during contraflow times has helped the project run more smoothly.

Residents weigh in on Nanakuli contraflow lane at lively town hall meeting

Nanakuli 5th Lane Study Being Conducted by DOT

The State Department of Transportation (DOT) is conducting a study which focuses on the possibility of adding a 5th lane to ease to Nanakuli bottleneck.  Here is a link to the Request for Proposal for the study: