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HDOT moves to fix traffic problem near Lihu‘e McDonald’s drive-thru

LIHU‘E — The state Department of Transportation took steps to fix traffic problems on a chaotic stretch of highway near the Lihu‘e McDonald’s drive-thru in late April, installing barriers between the northbound lane of Kuhio Highway and the fast food spot.

The popular drive-thru frequently has lines that stretch out of the parking lot and into the road, as vehicles sometimes come to a full standstill in either or both highway lanes while waiting to turn into the lot.

“The barriers were installed to prevent left turns into the McDonald’s driveway,” said DOT spokesperson Jai Cunningham in an email to The Garden Island.

“During peak traffic times, northbound vehicles turning left into McDonald’s have to wait for a sufficient gap in the southbound traffic to make the turn, and block northbound traffic. This causes congestion on the highway, and leads to safety issues when northbound vehicles choose to swerve into the outside lane to get around the vehicle waiting to turn left.”

Additionally, DOT recently installed “No Stopping” signs ahead of the driveway in the southbound lane to discourage vehicles from pausing to turn when the line is full.

“Southbound vehicles turning right into the same McDonald’s driveway have also been problematic when the McDonald’s drive-thru queue extends out into the southbound lane on Kuhio Highway,” said Cunningham.

The area has long been the subject of social media frustration, with posts complaining about the traffic situation beginning as far back as 2017.

The new barriers were greeted by largely positive social media reactions.

“Finally they did something. For years that spot has been a problem. McDonald’s is horrible for you anyways. With the accident and near accidents there I’m glad,” said commenter Adam Rapozo.

In 2021, a semitruck collided with a Mustang in front of the Lihu‘e McDonald’s. There were no injuries.

Other social media commenters were less enthusiastic about the change, pointing out that cars might still hold up traffic to make a left turn at the following street, or that the barriers limited other turns.

Others pointed out that many of those in the Mcdonald’s drive-thru are delivery drivers for rideshare apps like UberEats or DoorDash.

“Mcdonalds is pretty much 75 percent of the orders all day,” wrote commenter Mark Smith. “If you’re a delivery driver, time wasted is money lost.”

The DOT said they are working with McDonald’s and KPD to consider other proposals to reduce the potential for vehicles to block highway lanes.


Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or
Source: The Garden Island

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