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About the Transportation working group
Note from John Whalen of PlanPacific:

To minimize the duplication of effort among the various Working Groups, it is suggested that the Public Facilities & Infrastructure Working Group focus on planning of facilities for basic infrastructure that is not related to transportation, such as water, waste disposal, and police and fire facilities. This group may also want to consider approaches to finance improvements to infrastructure in non-conforming subdivisions.
The Transportation Working Group will address facilities for travel (i.e., highways, streets, emergency access routes, and bicycle, pedestrian and mass transit facilities).
The Social Services Working Group can focus on affordable housing, as well as police-related programs (e.g., Weed & Seed, Neighborhood Watch, etc.). Social Services may also suggest locations for community-support facilities (e.g., schools, medical clinics/hospitals, libraries, senior housing and centers) that are not explicitly the kuleana of Public Facilities & Infrastructure.

It would be particularly helpful to decision-makers to receive input from the community re:
  • ­ Should a Puna Makai Alternate Route (PMAR) be created? Where? Should it go through Hawaiian Paradise Park?
  • Should Highway 130 be expanded to 4 lanes? If so, between what points?
  • Should both the PMAR and the 4 lane expansion of Hwy 130 be done or just one or the other?
  • How can people be encouraged to use buses? What would encourage them to use a Park and Ride Facility?
Preliminary Themes, Goals, and Objectives from the Small Group Meetings

These themes (recurring ideas) were derived from 130 small group meetings conducted throughout the Puna district.

Preliminary Themes (TRAN)
  1. Safer Roads (paved, roundabouts, speed bumps, reflectors)
  2. Alternate Route for Lower Puna
  3. Widening of Hwy 130 to 4 lanes
  4. More Street Lights
  5. More Traffic Lights
  6. Better Public Transportation Systems
  7. Improved Bus Schedule with More Frequent Stops
  8. Availability of Bus Stops/Shelters
  9. Mini Shuttle Service
  10. Availability of Park & Ride Service
  11. More Sidewalks
  12. Safe Bike Lane/Paths & Multi-mode Trails (natural trails* also refer to parks & recreation)
Preliminary Goal: create a viable transportation system that includes safe and adequate roads, and alternative methods of transportation (bus, bike, walk) thus minimizing traffic congestion.

Preliminary Objectives

These objectives have been derived from the themes generated from 3,394 ideas provided by a broad cross section of Puna residents. The numbers in parentheses indicate which theme or themes were used to develop the objectives.

A. Allow for development of safer roads that meet local needs (1,4,5).

B. Ensure alternate road for lower Puna is created to ease current and future traffic congestion (2).

C. Increase the capacity (DOT) of Hwy 130 (3).

D. Encourage on-going development of reliable and accessible bus system (6).

E. Provide user friendly bus schedule (7).

F. Identify potential bus stops, park and ride areas, and envelope system (shelter) (8,10).

G. Enquire about viable shuttle routes (9)

H. Create incentives or regulations for more sidewalks and bike lanes, & encourage more multi-mode trails in Puna (11,12).

Excerpts from Previous Plans and Current Projects

Considerable time, thought and community-wide effort has been applied to the issue of transportation in Puna over the past decade or more, resulting in a number of plans that have made specific recommendations and policy statements. Pertinent excerpts from these plans are attached.

The County of Hawai'i General Plan, adopted by ordinance in 2005, sets the land use and community development policy for the County of Hawai'i, and is intended to serve as a guide for state and federal government and private sector, as well. Here is what the General Plan says about transportation in Puna:

"ROADWAYS / TRANSIT
There are four primary routes within the district of Puna. The Volcano Road (Highway 11) provides access to and from Hilo and serves the upper Puna region. The Puna Road (Highway 130) runs from Keaau to Kalapana-Kaimu providing access from upper to lower Puna. The Kapoho Road (Highway 132) spans between Pahoa and Kapoho. The Puna Coast Road (Highway 137) links Kapoho and Kalapana-Kaimu. Due to recent upgrades, highways 11 and 130 stand out as the most improved roads. The remaining roads throughout the district are primarily privately owned and either substandard paved or cinder/unpaved, which are inadequate by present standards. Highways 11 and 130 are also the only two primary routes serving the district and become heavily congested during the work week. The latest Keaau By-pass highway re-directs Hilo and Pahoa bound traffic around the town of Keaau mediating congestion at the intersection of Volcano Highway and Keaau-Pahoa Road."

"Many sections of roads have drainage systems that do not meet standards or have sharp curves and grades without adequate sight distance."

"Traffic congestion is solved by reducing trips and trip distance, and by changes in land use so that there is a balance of jobs, housing, and services at the census tract level. Lateral transportation corridors will be needed as subdivisions continue to develop. A Puna roadway master plan in conjunction with community-based master subdivision plans would help to identify future transportation improvements needed to accommodate the anticipated population. A secondary rural arterial roadway should be planned for the center of the central subdivisions upon which to locate rural town cores. This secondary roadway would provide locations for employment, services, and education for subdivision residents without having to commute on a primary arterial. Convenient public transit with intermodal connections to trails and conveniently located small-scale accommodations and amenities would improve Puna’s attraction for eco-tourists. Hazards, historic sites, recreation, and aesthetic value make the Puna Coast Road inappropriate as a primary or secondary roadway, but ideal as a scenic by-way."

"The Hele-On Bus is administered by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency (MTA). Hele-On provides a Hilo-Pahoa route along Highway 130 five times a day, and a Hilo-Kau route along Highway 11 once a day. Ridership could be greatly improved with convenient routes and schedules, marked stops or transit centers, and marketing programs. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities are limited in Puna."

“The key to land use here is to keep people in Paradise Park from having to drive elsewhere to buy things that could very well be provided within its boundaries” (Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Master Plan, 1997).

"Courses of Action:
Explore the possibility of developing a mid-level roadway to be located makai of Highway 130, beginning at Hawaiian Beaches Subdivision and extending through Hawaiian Paradise Park Subdivision with its eventual connection to Railroad Avenue in South Hilo. Consider the establishment of a bikeway along the same alignment.
Consider, in conjunction with community associations and property owners, the use of a variety of mechanisms to provide infrastructure in non-conforming subdivisions, beginning with the major roads providing access into the more densely populated subdivisions."

"AIRPORTS & HARBORS
There are several private aircraft landing strips throughout Puna. They were constructed for small crop-dusting, single engine aircraft by the former sugar industry."

"The County has purchased twenty-two acres of land on the mauka side of Isaac Hale Beach Park for the construction of additional car and boat parking, playgrounds, picnic, and bathroom facilities to supplement the heavily used boat launching facilities at Pohoiki."

"Courses of Action:
Provide general aviation and small boat harbor facilities as the need arises.
Provide another small boat launching facility at Kapoho."

In 2005, the County with the help of a consultant completed the Puna Regional Circulation Plan. This document has not been formally adopted, but it contains many specific proposals for transportation improvements. The report includes maps showing the location of the following proposed improvements:
  • Widen Highway 130 in affordable increments.
  • Widen Highway 11 to four lanes in affordable increments.
  • Construct a new makai alternate route (i.e., through Hawai'ian Paradise Park).
  • Develop transportation demand/system management techniques to reduce the number of automobiles during peak periods.
  • Increase bus frequency and routes.
  • Construct park/ride facilities.
  • Supplement bus transit with paratransit.
  • Ensure safe routes to schools to encourage walking and biking by school children.
  • Improve the Old Volcano Trail.
  • Acquire and improve Railroad ROW.
  • Investigate beach road improvements.
  • Improve intersection along Highway 130.
  • Improve intersections along Highway 11.
  • Emergency bypass/connectivity projects.
In 1995, the County of Hawai'i secured the services of a consultant to complete the Puna Community Development Plan. Like the Puna Regional Circulation Plan, it was not formally adopted. While the Puna Regional Circulation Plan is based on more current data and conditions, the 1995 plan contains some recommendations that may still be relevant:
  • Encourage county funding of a Puna Roadway Master Plan that establishes a regional roadway network, identifies roadway improvements and new roadway corridors, and recommends roads for County dedication.
  • Study the feasibility of widening Highway 130 to a four-lane arterial between the Pahoa Bypass and the planned Keaau Bypass, and eliminating frontage access.
  • Upgrade of subdivisions’ entrance roads – Kuauili, South Kulani, South Kopua, South Glenwood, and 22.5 Mile Road – on an incremental basis, in conjunction with upgrading of subdivisions collector roads.
  • Encourage the State to plan and implement development of a rural arterial corridor extending from the upper end of Kahakai Boulevard to the bottom of Hawaiian Acres, or another limited access route in the same general area, and then through Hawaiian Acres at “Nine and a Half Road” (between Nine and Ten roads) to Kuauli, then through the upper part of Kurtistown and below Happy Homes, to connect with Komohana Street Extension in Hilo.
  • Plan for and seek design funding for implementation of the Central Subdivision Corridor as shown in the General Plan, seeking State and federal assistance, as a limited access route, based on appropriate engineering studies and seeking to protect the underground lava tubes in the vicinity.
  • Plan for and seek design funding for a mid-level parkway below Highway 130 from Hawaiian Beaches to Hilo, at the level of 14th or 15th Street through Hawaiian Paradise Park instead of along the coast.
  • Design upper (“Nine and a Half Road”) and lower (14th or 15th Streets) laterals and Central Subdivision Corridor to preserve options for later conversion to street car or light rail, and to otherwise comply with Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) requirements for rural arterial.
  • Study the feasibility of extending Pikake Road in Orchidland east to cross Highway 130 and to intersect with the lower parkway, as the transportation spine of a future light industrial/technical park at Waipalani.
  • Work with the County Department of Public Works, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources Na Ala Hele Program, and community interest groups to dedicate Railroad Avenue, Volcano Trail, Puna Trail, and other suitable routes for bicycle and/or pedestrian routes, with emphasis on community-managed operation and maintenance.
  • Promulgate new standards for rural roads comparable to the standards in effect before the 1967 County Zoning and Subdivision Codes. Begin a cooperative program to bring candidate Puna subdivision roadways up to standard for dedication to the County.
  • Collaborate with subdivisions for gradual County acceptance of appropriate subdivisions collector streets.
  • Collaborate with community groups to designate the coastal road and Pohoiki (Mango) Road as historic and scenic roads, as defined by the federal guidelines, to “protect and enhance the scenic, historic, cultural, natural, and archeological integrity and visitor appreciation of an existing highway and adjacent area.” Consider making the Mango Road one-way, and developing an additional corridor on the Kapoho side, to preserve its character.
  • Design transportation routes to integrate with regional and local bicycle/pedestrian networks.
  • Support community initiatives to plan for Rural Town Districts, and/or other community-based master planning.
  • Consider other land use patterns, with land uses which provide for less auto-dependence and more transportation choices for residents.
  • Maintain but do not widen road between Kapoho and Honolulu Landing, except as needed for emergency access.
  • Urge the State Department of Transportation to develop a new boat ramp facility at Kapoho Bay on lava accretion land, and to consider a small boat harbor at Makuu.
  • Expedite Keaau bypass road.
In addition to these County-sponsored plans, there have been community-initiated plans for Volcano, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and Hawaiian Acres. Here is what those plans recommend about transportation-related concerns in those communities:

Volcano Vision 2020 Goals and Recommendations:
  • Decrease automobile use by encouraging people to move within the volcano community by walking or bicycling, while providing accessibility for the disabled whenever possible.
  • Design main thoroughfares, including Old Volcano Road, for shared sue by bicyclists and pedestrians using appropriate traffic calming techniques including, but not limited to, speed limit reduction, and also by controlling plant overgrowth, and loose animals.
  • Encourage bicycle and pedestrian safety through public education.
  • Plan, when appropriate, for the creation of future neighborhood commercial zones, allowing for the building of consensus in the neighborhoods involved.
  • Establish a system of non-motorized multi-use trails that would connect volcano neighborhoods, other communities, and provide access to the National Park.
  • Expand cooperative efforts between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Volcano itself to develop a joint plan for multi-use trails.
  • Improve the existing trail into the National Park from the mauka end of Old Volcano Road.
  • Explore creation of a trail from Old Volcano Road to the Golf Course subdivision to Mauna Loa Road and to Kipuka Puaulu.
  • Support development of the Volcano Trail (originating in Volcano and potentially going to Hilo).
  • Reduce the number of car trips within Volcano neighborhoods and between Volcano and other communities.
  • Expand Hele-On bus service.
  • Encourage bicycle carriers on bus.
  • Support jitney/taxi service within all Volcano neighborhoods and between Volcano neighborhoods and other communities.
  • Support a “park & ride” program and networking service for carpooling.
  • Support home delivery services: postal, grocery, etc.
  • Support and development of jobs and services within Volcano neighborhoods
Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Master Plan (1997) Statements:
  • Establish a process by which improvements of all the roads including widening and paving to be accomplished by the year 2020.
  • Establish transportation routes for a shuttle service between village centers, schools, recreation and light industrial areas within connecting points to public transportation.
Hawaiian Acres Master Plan (1999) Statements:
"We will retain our private roads and maintain them with some improvements.
We reject plans for any county or state roads through Hawaiian Acres, including the proposed “central subdivision corridor”, which is routed along E Rd. in Hawaiian Acres. The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently rejected a proposed plan for a state highway through Hawaiian Acres; and we respectfully request that the county amend the current County General Plan to omit proposed county roads, including the “central subdivision corridor”, that bisect Hawaiian Acres against the expressed wishes of the majority of lot owners. In addition, we recommend against the county’s acceptance of the DOT’s Puna Circulation Alternative No. 4, described in the Hawaii State Long Term Transportation Plan as including a Komohana-to-Kurtistown extension. That extension, if constructed, might encourage the further construction of a state highway through Hawaiian Acres subdivision, which we would reject on the basis of our survey results.
We support increasing incentives to lot owners to volunteer monies.
We support Mandatory Road Fees (MRFs) or alternatives to MRFs, with well-defined and fair methods of enforcement, collection, and control of funds. For purposes of accountability and consistency with democratic principles, voting on fee decisions and other road decisions should be free to all those charged with mandatory fees, regardless of fee payment history or community association membership.
We support improved road signage.
We support gating (that does not deny access to residents and the accompanied private property rights in accordance with county, state, and federal law (Hawaiian County Code, sec. 22-7. Hawaii Revised Statues 520-1. U.S. Supreme Court cases, Rak Vs. Ill. 439-US-128, -99-S-Ct.-421-58L-Ed-2d-387, Ruckelshause Vs. Monsanto Co. 467-US-986, -104-S-Ct.-2862-81Ed-2d-815, Russello Vs. U.S.A. 464-US-16, -104-S-Ct.-296-78L-Ed-2d-17). Benefits of gating include retention of property rights over private roads, reduction of criminal traffic, and the possibility of closing gates (by community watch) to help the Hawaii Police Department trap suspects.
We support the widening of 8 Rd. and 1 Rd. to two lanes and pavement to accommodate school bus and morning/afternoon traffic.
We support paving one lettered road, with community approval.
We support installing culverts in flood zones.
We support the designation of equestrian use roads.
We support the promotion of pedestrian and bicycle safety by designating lanes and installing appropriate signage.
We support instituting weight limits for heavy truck traffic or assessing impact fees.
We will encourage car-pooling or ride sharing and provide parking for such.
We will support and encourage public buses and bus stops.
We will leave several lettered roads unpaved but with minor maintenance ofr pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and equestrian use.
We support the correlation of planning with knowledge about lava tube caves. “Blind hills” consisting of ridges containing lava tube caves should be eliminated by building up the approaches rather than cutting down into them.
We support the restriction of thru commercial traffic on the Puna Access Road.
There are no solid commitments to any of the proposed road designs. These road plans (see attached map) are subject to change due to community input of community opposition.
We support the gating of the entrance roads one day per year to meet the criteria of what is legally defined as private roads."

The following transportation-related projects are underway in Puna:

County
  • Pohoiki and Kalapana realignments
  • PEAR (Ainaloa & Hawn Acres Rd 8)
  • Old Volcano Trail (survey phase)
State
  • Hwy 130 shoulder lane
  • Hwy 130 widening (Planning phase)
  • Prospective
  • Hwy 130 intersection improvements
  • PMAR
  • RR ROW bike/pedestrian trail
More information and location maps for the above projects are available in the Puna Capital Improvement Projects presentation - see Related Content below.

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