A New West Side Escape Route
Wednesday - August 24, 2005
Do you remember when they built the H-1 Freeway all the way to Makaha? Local folks used to call it the Chin Ho Freeway because it went from Pearl City to Makaha, where he developed the resort, and there were few homes in between. It was the road to nowhere.
Well, that’s all changed. Now it is a buzzing stretch of parched, moderately priced land. Makakilo became known as the community “Where the Future Is.” After Campbell Industrial Park was built, Paradise Cove lured tourists from Waikiki, a landfill went in at Waimanalo Gulch. “The Second City of Kapolei” and the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park were built. Next to come, a promised second University of Hawaii campus, an expanded worldclass tourist center at Ko Olina and the beginning of a “State of the Art Rail System.” There appears to be no end to future construction in the area.
Residents of the Windward side argue that they shouldn’t be obligated to pay for a rail system since they won’t benefit from it. But that’s exactly what the Leeward side residents said when they started building the H-3 tunnels.
With all the trans-Koolau comparisons, there is one unfair fact that cannot be ignored. It has become painfully clear to everyone that when you block the road coming in from West Oahu, the residents become trapped and have no recourse. The brush fires in Nanakuli made it painfully evident that the Leeward side needs another road feeding into and out of the Waianae Coast.
After many years of horrendous traffic jams and gridlock, the residents of Ewa will finally benefit from a North-South road to offer at least marginal relief from traffic gridlock. If you are coming in on the Chin Ho Freeway and there is a tie-up, you are stuck until it is investigated and the cars, trucks or injured motorists are moved. And then the debris from the accidents or brush fires must be removed. It has taken up to six hours in some cases, several times a year. It’s happening way too often and there are too many subdivisions and homes on the Leeward Coast to ignore.
By contrast, on the Windward side of the island there are at least five escape routes for motorists. Depending on where the accident or emergency is located, the motorist can turn around and get to town by way of Kahuku or Waimanalo. If they are in central Windward Oahu, they have two beautiful tunnels to choose from if the third is shut down because of an emergency. There is no such escape on the Leeward side, and it’s becoming more evident that it is not fair to residents who live there, it’s not fair to people trying to get to work or accomplish their business in the area. Workers show up late or not at all and companies lose unrecoverable revenue.
There are two roads that have been promised, off and on, for more than 50 years. One was a North-South road to relieve the congestion caused by the population explosion in the Ewa Plain. Now that environmental concerns have been addressed, it has to be built quickly because Fort Weaver Road is a treacherous commute 24 hours a day.
The other road is one that would connect Mokuleia and Waianae by building it around Kaena Point. There is a maintained road available for 4x4 vehicles, but nothing for normal or business vehicles. It would not be an engineering marvel to build such a road and would make life a lot more interesting for residents and visitors alike.
I’m sure there are environmental reasons why the Kaena Point road has never been built. I’m equally sure those concerns could be satisfactorily answered. It would do wonders for business, the safety and welfare of the Leeward community, tourism and the psychological disposition of the residents.
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