By David Corrigan & Stephanie Salazar
PAAUILO, Hawaii: We start our pedestrian plan examination along the Hamakua Coast…
Here, the state is looking at this area in Paauilo as an area of concern on Hawaii Island… one of five sites around the county and the only site on the Hamakua coast.
Here, the Paauilo Elementary school and a handful of local businesses sit on the mauka side of the busy Highway 19, while a neighborhood lines the makai side. In between… this elevated pedestrian bridge.
According to the Draft Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan document, students going to Paauilo Elementary “lack a dedicated and intuitive way to walk or bike to school from the pedestrian bridge.” There are also no signs telling motorists that the area is a school zone.
Of the five Hawaii island locations identified in the draft plan, this was the only spot where a “Pedestrian Oriented Population” factored into the identification of the area of concern.
According to the state plan, this factor addresses the needs of populations that historically have had limited access to transportation options. Youth, elderly, lower-income populations, and households that have no access to vehicles are more reliant on the pedestrian system because they may not be able to drive or afford a safe and reliable vehicle.
The draft plan gives the location a relatively low priority… it is recommending to install additional signs to indicate to motorists that the area is a school zone.