Funds will provide parallel route, highway widening, emergency access roadway

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Wai‘anae Coast residents can anticipate much-needed traffic relief as several projects are being planned with millions of dollars in funding provided for traffic improvements including creating a parallel roadway for daily use, highway widening, and improving our emergency access roads.

A meeting held earlier this week regarding traffic relief for the Wai‘anae community was coordinated by State Senator Maile Shimabukuro (Dist. 21 - Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua) and State Representative Cedric Gates (Dist. 44 - Wa‘ianae, Makaha, Makua, Ma‘ili). Also in attendance were representatives from the office of Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine and the office of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT), and the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation to discuss how best to use the funds to benefit Wai‘anae Coast commuters.

“Solving traffic congestion is a challenging and complicated matter, so this collaboration between city, state and federal officials shows there is a team of people who understand the needs of our community and are working together towards improving the quality of life for residents on the Wai‘anae Coast,” said Sen. Shimabukuro.

“It’s heartening to see the support we’re getting to ease the traffic congestion our community has to deal with on a daily basis,” said Rep. Gates. “By addressing the traffic problem from a variety of angles with meaningful solutions, Wai‘anae residents will hopefully soon have a smoother commute and more quality time with family.”

In the 2017 Legislative Session, Rep. Gates secured $3 million towards creating a parallel route for daily use for the Wai‘anae Coast. A portion of these funds will be used for planning and design, including environmental studies for a parallel road between the entrance to Nanakuli and Lualualei Naval Road. This would include a bridge over Nanakuli Stream. This effort to reduce traffic congestion on the Wai‘anae Coast will likely be phased over several years.

“The need for a secondary access way to serve the roughly 51,000 residents of the Leeward Coast is long overdue and sorely needed. I fully support efforts to alleviate the traffic burden and address the safety risks that the status quo poses. This funding is a positive step forward,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i -02)

In a joint effort, Sen. Shimabukuro and Councilwoman Pine were able to secure $6 million which was allocated in 2016 to extend and improve the Wai‘anae Coast Emergency Access Road (WCEAR). DHHL is taking the lead in a study to build a WCEAR extension road which connects Helelua Street to Haleakala Avenue, via the Pu‘u Heleakala recreational park and Door of Faith Church. DHHL has met with the Pu‘u Heleakala Board and Door of Faith Church to discuss this plan. Officials are also considering amending the Environmental Assessment for WCEAR to allow for its use during planned roadwork lane closures. Currently, this practice is only allowed after a lengthy process and is technically considered an exception to the allowable use.

“I’m a firm believer that it takes a team effort to make positive changes,” said Councilwoman Pine. “By working together, we can ensure that the money allocated toward mitigating traffic is used in the most efficient and effective way. I am pleased we are moving in that direction.”

Sen. Shimabukuro and Rep. Gates were able to secure $3 million in Highway Revenue Funds in 2017 to widen Farrington Highway by extending the fifth lane which is currently being constructed at the beginning of Nanakuli to Hakimo Road. HDOT proposed this project as part of an Ige Administration directive to support cost-effective operational improvements and Rep. Gates and Sen. Shimabukuro will continue to work to obtain funding to support this much-needed relief. At the completion of the project to add the fifth lane, the intersections between Helelua Street and Nanakuli Avenue will have closed circuit connectivity to the traffic management center, as well as new thermal detectors to improve the efficiency of traffic flow.

Since August 10, 2016, HDOT has been operating a westbound contraflow lane in Nanakuli from Piliokahi Avenue to Lualualei Naval Road in an attempt to reduce the daily commute time for the more than 51,000 residents that live along the Wai‘anae Coast. This federally funded project allows for additional capacity to Farrington Highway and has resulted in an average time savings of 11-minutes for Wai‘anae bound commuters during peak afternoon traffic periods. With Administration and Legislative support, HDOT is considering an extension of the Nanakuli Contraflow, which was originally planned to end once construction on the fifth lane on Farrington Highway was completed.

Other improvement projects currently in the works for the Wai‘anae Coast include the replacement of Maipalaoa Bridge and the resurfacing of Farrington Highway from Satellite Tracking Station Road (Kaena Point) to Kili Drive. Additional resurfacing and safety improvements along this corridor from Kahe Point to Hakimo Road and from Hakimo Road to Kili Drive are planned and HDOT is seeking community feedback on the safety improvement concept, which can be found at

“HDOT thanks Senator Shimabukuro and Representative Gates for the collaboration and their continued support for improvement projects along the Waianae Coast,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways, Ed Sniffen. “Our primary focus remains safety and preservation of our existing roadways, and we continue to support opportunities for cost effective projects that result in improved quality of life for Hawaii commuters.”

Other traffic mitigation efforts currently being reviewed includes a possible extension of the contraflow lane on Farrington Highway, traffic cameras at Nanakuli intersections, tow truck service, LED lighting, resurfacing, bridge repair, WCEAR signage, pedestrian safety measures, bus stop relocations, and a bike path.

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