Kauai Seeks To Fix Traffic Nightmare After 50 Years

Since the 1970’s, the idea for a bypass road inland of Lihue has been on the Kauai County radar. Have we ever mentioned that things don’t usually happen very quickly here? The idea would be to allow southwest and eastbound traffic to flow away from Lihue.

The goal, of course, is primarily to help reduce traffic gridlock on what is affectionately called the “Kapaa Crawl” that leads between Kauai’s east side and the southwest parts of the island.  This is the worst traffic on the island, and it isn’t unusual to sometimes spend up to one extra hour for that reason. In addition, it is considered a safety hazard due to emergency vehicles that can get stuck trying to get through the bottleneck and the lack of means for evacuation.

The proposed 5-mile bypass road would cross prior sugar cane hauling roads.

Nearly a decade ago, the head of County Engineering said that, if and when built, “It would probably become one of the most important regional connections.”

The county, using state funds, appears set to undertake yet another feasibility study in preparation for a new road. It’s been about ten years since the last one was conducted. That called for the bypass road to run either near the Lihue airport or from Hanamaulu and end up near the Kauai Beach Resort. We aren’t sure that a specific route was ever finalized.

Kapaa (Bypass) Crawl

The previous study contemplated the project as either one or two lanes in either direction. This round, however, only one lane in each direction is being discussed. There have been parallel plans for a multi-use path for pedestrians and bicycles.

The last time around, the estimated cost of construction was between $90M and 120M. In today’s dollars, that would be $114m to $152M. It was previously anticipated that the road would be constructed in phases due to the high cost.

Ten years ago, County Engineering said it would take “many years” for county, state, and federal governments to complete all the studies needed and build the road. Even then, there was no unanimous community approval for the idea. We can only imagine that it will be worse this time around.

$800k approved to reexamine a Lihue Mauka Bypass road.

The first $400k will determine the feasibility of a “Two-lane road that would bypass the congested areas of Lihue and provide a more direct route between the east and southwest sides of the island.” The investment is to find the best route, analyze further, and ultimately devise a plan to fund the project.

If all goes as planned, the money may be available by fall, and the concept study completed within two years. After that, environmental studies and design and engineering planning will come if it continues to proceed.

The Kauai County Council voted unanimously to support the project and was advised it would “take a lot of time.” One council member estimated that to be no less than ten years.

Shared Use Path and Access Plan to also be evaluated.

That is to interconnect multi-use paths and trails and further enhance options. The second $400k would be allocated to the Planning Department for that purpose. Kauai County seeks to devise what will become a master plan.

There’s some hope that more than just another plan may occur this time.

What would your recommendation be to improve traffic on Kauai?

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40 thoughts on “Kauai Seeks To Fix Traffic Nightmare After 50 Years”

  1. Grab some professional from the Northeast(philly),they had a overpass collapse on I-95 and had it repaired in a week just a example and since Kauai Braggs it’s made 200+million a month for the last year And????lay off the bandaiding the whole island at once and do from point A to b one section at a time realizing that people have to go to work,not waste gas,destroying your vehicle etc. No body wants the the infrastructure to grow like it did, but off course it did.. Then again according to the county of Kauai we’ve made 2.4 billion dollars in a year,so get some outside help it’s obvious the D.o.t. is stumped the roads are like Costa Ricas in the 90s except we have alot more money??? Where’s the Money going???bring in the pros please

  2. Free busses and shuttles for the tourists in between the touristy spots will make more room for the locals on the roads.

  3. So excited for Coco Palms. Maybe as a good gesture the hotel investment Utah grp could give the state just enough land to help the improvement of that hwy so they can add another lane in both directions. This would help when hotel opens. Just a thought.

  4. And of course you’d still need pedestrian lights for certain areas or build a pedestrian overpass. Way less time and often for pedestrians. By ABC downtown Kapa’a a 4-way (to all four corners) pedestrian crossing would make it quicker and more efficient for pedestrians and vehicles.
    Let’s get rid of the crawl. It’s time to grow up and move.

  5. One way north through Kapa’a on the existing highway, and south using the bypass road. We can do it now to all alleviate a lot of traffic issues. Traffic will flow much better and a lot more quickly. Imagine no stop lights headed north – no need.

    This will also buy us time to put into place other solutions.

  6. Back in the horse and buggy days, the island doctor lived in Waimea and used the the road that I understand ran along the mountain up behind the jail and then to Wailua River. My understanding is that land above and adjacent to the jail is Hawaiian Homes land. How about a Cooperative road project with HH, following the historical route, so it would create better access for them too, when they start putting infrastructure in place for future development?Dotty

  7. We have been visiting Kauai for over 10 years, staying at Islander on the Beach. The problem has existed for every one of these years. There is no cure so just live with it.

  8. Let’s not go from one extreme to the other. I don’t think any resident of Kauai wants to copy Oahu! The only positive there is the public bus and many areas where you can bike and walk without needing a car! Luckily, creating a 4 to 6 lane highway on Kauai will not happen in our lifetime!

    1. Not sure this has been mentioned, but, how about an elevated rail system? You already have the politicians available to approve it! lol

      1. A senic tollroad along Powerline Trial from Pvil to Omao with exits at all the logical places. It would probably have to be federally built & privately maintained along the lines of the Tri-state tollway (294).


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