Barriers considered for turtle-watch bottleneck
HONOLULU (AP) — Highway congestion caused by people stopping to view Hawaiian sea turtles at Laniakea Beach likely will be addressed with concrete barriers, state Department of Transportation officials said.
The barriers could go up by the end of the year despite objections by residents to block cars and buses from parking along Laniakea Beach.
DOT consultants Wednesday promoted the plan at a meeting of a group formed to study solutions, the 19-member Laniakea Task Force. About 100 North Shore residents attended and most did not support barriers, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/198EdHc) reported.
Barriers across a 1,000-foot beachfront stretch on the mountain side of the highway will be installed pending review of community comments, DOT officials said.
Former state representative Gill Riviere said the agency has disregarded public comments.
“The task force was absolutely ignored of its opinion,” said Riviere, a former task force member. He attended Wednesday for one of its current members, Kawika Au.
Seven members who voted for the barriers supported the idea only as a one-year trial, Riviere said.
Resident said blocking all cars from accessing Laniakea is too drastic and the area is the first true stretch of beach accessible to the public east of Haleiwa.
DOT highways administrator Alvin Takeshita said building a parking lot would be more costly and complicated than residents realize. A parking lot would fall outside the state agency’s role, he said, and would be a multimillion-dollar “hard-core” project requiring numerous local and federal permits.
A Hawaii tourism study counted 2,500 visitors and 156 buses and vans visiting Laniakea in one day, Takeshita said.
“There must be a safer place to redirect visitors to see our turtles,” he said. “This is the quickest reaction that we can have.”
He said he would support removing barriers if they don’t work.