By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Neighbors along Nahale-A Avenue in Keaukaha are asking drivers to ease off the gas pedal as they drive through the quiet little neighborhood.
Earlier this month, traffic along Kalanianaole Avenue was redirected up Kauhane Avenue and along Nahale-A to Baker Avenue as work crews complete renovations of a sewer pipe running under Kalanianaole.
People who live along the road say they understand the necessity of the project, but that doesn’t mean they have to be happy about all the traffic it has funneled through their usually idyllic street.
Neighbors there have erected a number of homemade signs with messages reading “Slow the hell down” and “Respect the Homestead.” Children’s tricycles line the road in front of one home, to serve as a reminder that children live and play in the area And some neighbors have been heard shouting “Slow down!” as passers-by travel through too fast for their liking.
What the detour amounts to, said resident Corri Sabate, is a big imposition on everyone’s way of life.
“I have 11 grandkids,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “And I’ve got to make sure they’re all in the backyard, because we can’t have them out front anymore. There’s just too much traffic. Too much chance for something to happen.”
Sabate says she’s also stopped parking her car in front of her house to avoid damage or possible injury when she and the keiki are exiting the vehicle.
Despite her unhappiness with the situation, Sabate said that police have been helpful in stationing officers along the route to catch drivers’ attention and force them to slow down.
Hawaii Police Capt. Robert Wagner said Tuesday that his office hadn’t received an unusual number of calls about the area, but that officers are trying to maintain an “around the clock” presence to dissuade speeding and other reckless behavior.
“It works. It actually does,” he said. “If you see policemen stationed there, you’re going to slow down.”
Wagner added that police are especially out in force during heavy traffic hours.
Isemoto Contracting, which is overseeing the sewer repairs, has also hired a number of off-duty and special-duty policemen to stand at intersections and keep drivers safe.
Aubre Auna stood at the stop sign at the intersection of Pua and Nahale-A early Tuesday afternoon, wearing a bright orange vest to catch the eyes of passing motorists. He said that Isemoto had asked him to cover that spot after neighbors complained that some drivers had been driving straight through the intersection rather than coming to a complete stop at the sign.
“There’s two of us working the road right now,” he said. “It’s just good for people to know we’re here. To have them see us.”
In addition to the warm bodies, Isemoto has also laid down multiple temporary speed humps along the route and placed orange traffic cones to divide the road and keep drivers’ attention. The county has also put an electronic road sign at the start of the route reminding drivers of the 25 mph speed limit and cautioning them to “Treat it like your neighborhood.”
Isemoto Contracting has also been quite responsive to complaints and requests, Sabate said.
“I called Isemoto last night and told them we needed more traffic cones. This morning, they were out there,” she said, pointing out along the street.
Despite the precautions, however, Sabate and her neighbors are worried that the increase in traffic will lead to an accident, especially with holiday traffic coming up.
“Drunk driving is a concern,” she said, especially considering all the beachgoers heading out to Richardson’s and other popular recreation areas, where drinking is a popular activity. “And we had a car overtake someone right out here recently. People just aren’t careful, and it’s not good.”
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.