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Waikoloa Village closer to getting a roundabout

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai‘i — A new traffic roundabout in Waikoloa Village is one step closer to becoming a reality after the release of a draft environmental assessment with an anticipated finding of no significant impact.

Waikoloa Road provides essential access as part of the island’s transportation network, connecting Mamalahoa Highway to Queen Kaahumanu Highway in South Kohala. The heavily traveled road faces congestion, safety concerns, lack of alternative routes and maintenance.

Waikoloa Village’s approximately 7,400 residents and visitors primarily utilize the Waikoloa Road Paniolo Avenue/Pua Melia Street intersection in and out of the village.

A traffic study showed approximately 1,000 vehicles pass through the intersection during the peak morning hours of 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and about 1,200 vehicles from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The study also indicated that between 2016 and 2020, there were four major traffic crashes at the intersection, with no fatalities reported.

The intersection currently has stop signs at Paniolo Road and Pua Melia Street with Waikoloa Road being a straight thoroughfare. During peak hour traffic, drivers attempting to enter Waikoloa Road from Paniolo Avenue or Pua Melia Street experience long lines and heavy traffic approaching the intersection.

To address traffic and safety issues at the intersection, the Department of Public Works has proposed to modify the existing two-way stop intersection by constructing a two-lane roundabout.

According to the report, roundabouts provide several advantages compared to traditional intersections by reducing the number of conflict points, improving traffic flow, increasing capacity and reducing the severity of accidents by eliminating head-on and right-angle collisions and reducing vehicle speeds.

In order to create a two-lane roundabout — the preferred proposal — the county would need to acquire portions of two privately owned parcels, one on the southeast corner of the intersection and the other on the northeast corner.

The proposed two-lane roundabout would include pedestrian safety beacons and splitter islands at all crosswalk locations.

“The two-lane roundabout was selected as the best option to accommodate projected long-term traffic demands at this intersection,” said Department of Public Works Director Steve Pause.

“The roundabout will enhance traffic flow movement and reduce delays presently experienced at peak a.m. and p.m. volumes. It will result in a safer intersection for pedestrians and vehicles, will decrease vehicle pollution and will lower long-term maintenance costs for the county.”

Upon issuance of the final environmental assessment and anticipated FONSI (finding of no significant impact), the design for the roundabout will be completed.

The final environmental assessment will determine the start date. The completion date will be approximately 18 months from the start date.

Proposed design

The eastbound approach of Waikoloa Road will provide an exclusive left-turn lane and a shared left-turn/through/right-turn lane.

The westbound approach of Waikoloa Road will provide a shared left-turn/ through lane with minimum length of 300 feet. The right-turn bypass lane will be converted to a shared through/right-turn lane with minimum length of 300 feet.

Paniolo Avenue will provide a shared left-turn/through lane and an exclusive right-turn lane. The right-turn bypass lane will be converted to a yield-controlled right-turn lane.

Pua Melia Street will provide a shared left-turn/through lane and an exclusive right-turn lane with a minimum storage length of 100 feet.

Crosswalks will be provided at the splitter islands, a minimum of one vehicle length from the circulatory roadway of the roundabout intersection.

Two bus pullouts will be provided along Waikoloa Road to maintain the existing bus service.

The estimated cost of the two-lane roundabout is $5.79 million, with funding to be sourced from county general obligation bonds and capital improvement project money. That figure does not include the costs acquiring the adjacent land for the rights-of-way.
Source: The Garden Island

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