After all was said and done at the last Waianae Neighborhood Board meeting on March 5, 2013, the board concluded that the State Department of Transportation (DOT) is the only authority that can appease the community of surfers, beach-goers, and picnickers. Presently there are concerns for road safety, beach cutback, unnecessary costly construction, and preserving indigenous areas. Many community speakers and government representatives appeared to speak for or against the construction planned for the Makaha beach park, bridges, and access roads, with some stating the problem is out of their jurisdiction. Ian Santee, representing the Mayor’s Office, stated that the city’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS), Department of Planning and Permitting, and the Department of Emergency Management are cooperating with the State DOT “to explore viable alternatives.” Together, the city and state will work on an emergency bypass roadway and right of way issues to align a secondary access roadway. Louis Galdera, representing city council member Kimberly Pine, reported that Pine will separately address the two projects, the access road and the bridge construction. A community member responded by saying that the two projects “are inter-related and inseparable.”
Community members who attended the meeting added to the discussion. One reported that an invitation had been extended to the Director of the City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to attend the recent Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic to familiarize him with the Makaha Beach Park area and its problems, but the city merely responded that it was a state project, not theirs. A cry went up that the DPR director should meet with the community. Another noted that the bridges are “just run-down and not in dire need of repair.” A 1997 study stated that repairs are desirable but unnecessary. He also claimed that the bridges held up to heavy flooding in 2008 and were recently reinforced in 2006, which calls for alternative state plans. Residents who were polled at the Buffalo Surf Classic, preferred the alternative proposal drawn up by the Waianae Neighborhood Board’s Permitted Interaction Group (PIG), headed by Al Frenzel, because it is safer and protects the wetlands.
Frenzel gave an update on the PIG’s progress with the city and state governments’ involvement. Frenzel reported that the current plan calls for the replacement of the two existing bridges and implementation of a temporary bypass road makai (seaside) of Farrington Highway. PIG had written a resolution, which board members have approved, requesting the state to reconsider the project. This time, Frenzel presented a draft letter requesting the DOT Director Glenn Okimoto to re-evaluate alternatives to the project. The letter suggests building a mauka (mountainside) route and requests an inspection of the bridges to determine the need for replacement. When Frenzel requested the board to sign this letter, chairperson Perry, claiming a lack of prior notice and ignorance of such a letter, directed the board to take action on it in the next general meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. The meeting will be held at the Waianae District Park’s Multi-Purpose Room at 85-601 Farrington Highway, 7:00-9:45 P.M. At that time under unfinished business, Frenzel will present support letters, dated April 2, 2013, to State DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto and to Governor Neil Abercrombie regarding the Makaha Bridge No. 3 and No. 3A.
More community input followed. A representative of the Moku Council for Waianae, speaking as a Waianae konohiki and as a cultural practitioner, testified against the DOT bridge replacement project for these reasons:
- 1. Temporary road will be washed out to sea during heavy surf or rainstorms which warrants a mauka route away from the Makaha Beach Park.
- 2. Desire to restore ancient marshlands in the area and raise fish to conserve the environment and natural resources.
- 3. Many sections of Farrington Highway lie on traditional beach sites, including the stretch adjacent to the Makaha Surfing Beach as evidenced by the sand that washes onto the roadway.
Finally, another resident requested Pine insert the requirements of the Makaha Beach Park plan into the Community Improvement Program (CIP) budget for planning and design. The public is invited to attend the next Waianae Neighborhood Board meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, and voice their concerns and suggestions. It will be held at the Waianae District Park, Multi-Purpose Rm., 85-601 Farrington Highway, 7:00-9:45 P.M.
Below are just some of the issues the Hawaii DOT ignored when planning their current unsafe project:
– The unsafe parking, traffic and pedestrian situation that exist on both sides of the highway along the beach and beach park resulting from a highway flowing directly through it.
– The long-standing desires of the community to have Farrington Highway placed on the mauka side of Makaha Beach Park; to correct a routing error existing since 1937.
– The planned routing of Farrington Highway as envisioned by the City and County’s Master Plan for Makaha Beach Park and the readily available land to place the mauka road.
– The risks associated with running a temporary by-pass road on the makai side of Farrington Highway and the community’s apprehension and abhorrence to this proposal.
– The expected sea level and tidal increases that will endanger the highway more than it already experiences due to its low elevation and encroachment into Makaha Beach.
What about the liability for the injuries and deaths that are sure to happen on this stretch of highway over the next 100+ years if this route isn’t relocated mauka of the park? The highway currently runs through a beach, separating park users with a 45 mile an hour death trap. Nowhere else in the world is craziness like this allowed to occur; not even in under-developed countries. A mistake was made in 1937 by the Territorial Government of Hawaii allowing Farrington highway to be placed on a beach too close to the ocean. Let’s not perpetuate this error and endanger the beach and the beach users for another 100+ years. The liability for this potential fiasco will forever be on DOT’s hands AND the politicians who let the happen. Save lives; save money; save the beach and wetlands – do this project right – it’s the taxpayers’ money – do what the people are asking for, please.