(BIVN) – A planned partnership is in the works for school-related traffic congestion on Puainako Street in Hilo.
A joint media release from Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth, Hilo Councilmember Sue Lee Loy, Waiākea Elementary School Principal Ken Watanabe and Waiākea Intermediate School Principal Lisa Souza has the details:
A multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency partnership with the State Departments of Transportation and Education; the County of Hawaiʻi Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works, Police Department; and Councilmember Sue Lee Loy was announced today to address traffic concerns on Puainako Street.
“COVID-19 has everyone adjusting to minimize student exposure resulting in more families dropping off/picking up students,” said Ken Watanabe, Principal at Waiākea Elementary School (WES). “It has caused long lines clogging up Puainako Street,” noted Lisa Souza, Principal at Waiākea Intermediate School (WIS).
“It’s an all-hands-on-deck collaboration for our keiki,” said Councilmember Sue Lee Loy.
The plan is to extend the drop-off/pick-up queue on the WES Campus and develop new parking/holding areas with the goal of relieving traffic snags on Puainako Street. “We had been talking to many partners to address this concern. Mayor Rothgot the ball rolling, and Sue rallied everyone around small adjustments, put together a site map, picked the Fall Break, and kept everyone focused on doing thisfor our kids,” detailed Watanabe.
“Our families and educators have been working tirelessly to adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 mitigation protocols in our schools and we are honored to partner with the DOE to help alleviate some of the burden felt by many in our community,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “Our number one priority is that our keiki are able to remain in the classroom safely, but equitable access to that classroom is the first step.”
Site-prep work has begun on the WES and WIS Campuses with the bulk of the project scheduled for October 11-15, 2021. Approximately 100-truck loads of cold plane material will be transported from the state highway area near Alae Cemetery to Waiākea Elementary and Intermediate Schools. Police will be on hand to assist construction vehicles and traffic and are requesting motorists to plan for extra travel times around Alae Cemetery and Puainako Street.
The project has five areas of focus. It will create two new parking areas; one at WES and one at WIS; two areas of modest widening and reinforcement along a loop road on the WIS Campus; and one new drive-thru approach apron at the WESCampus. At WES, new signage and traffic flow patterns will be adjusted to direct cars into the existing teacher parking area and coil back to the newly created drive-thru apron for student drop-off/pick-up.
“I’m grateful to DOT Deputy Director Ed Sniffen, Hawaiʻi District Engineers Harry Takiue and Rob Lee, the County and especially Matt Weller at Operating Engineers Local 3 for helping transform a sketch on Google Maps into a solution for our community,” shared Lee Loy.
“These new features allow greater flexibility on campus. We look forward to welcoming all our students and teachers back after the Fall Break to an upgraded campus,” said Principal Watanabe.