Waianae Coast Emergency Access Road (WCEAR) Update

Aloha!  I recently posed questions about WCEAR to HPD, the City Department of Transportation Services (DTS), and the City Department of Emergency Management (DEM), received the following responses:

Question: Is it possible for copies of the WCEAR keys to be placed at the Waianae Police Station as well as Kapolei?

Answer (HPD): Absolutely… The projected completion date of the Waianae Police Station is October 2015, however, there have been some delays, so the exact completion and opening date is not known, but once the station is open, a key will be at the Waianae Police Station.

Question: Can the City routinely open the WCEAR when there are traffic jams from now on?

Answers:

DEM: In collaboration with HPD, WCEAR is used only for rerouting traffic during emergency incidents.  The roadway is privately owned and use is limited to extreme situations such as evacuations.   The City does not have the authority to open the roadway for use during non-emergencies.

HPD: There are several issues with this, but the short answer is no, we shouldn’t use it for traffic jams.

WCEAR is a “substandard roadway” meaning it is not regularly maintained and has overgrowth along the roads.  When we open the roadways, I have to have police officers stationed at the gates to monitor traffic because the roadways are not up to code and there is still cross traffic that the officers monitor.  It’s staffing intensive to open the roadways.

For significant incidents that have a tremendous impact, we will open up the gates and work with the City Department of Emergency Management (DEM), to help us with staffing and reassign the officers within the District to assist with Traffic Control.

I should mention that for significant events anywhere in the District, the on-duty Lieutenant will notify me 24/7, and one of our discussions is traffic management not only in the Waianae area but wherever the incident occurs.

DTS: DTS would defer to HPD and DEM regarding use of the WCEAR at any time other than emergencies.  However, it is DTS’ understanding that agreements with private land owners limit use for emergencies only.  In addition, the environmental documents specify use during emergencies only.

Question: Can signs be put up to alert motorists when WCEAR is open so people know that it can be used? 

Answer (HPD): The HPD does not have signs or message boards to deploy or stage when there is a significant incident.  This would come under the purview of DEM or DTS.  With a major incident on-going, officers are going to be responding to the incident and to have to assign an officer to get a portable variable message board would take one officer away from the incident.

The HPD, DEM, and State DOT have the ability to put out NIXLE alerts as well as provide up to the minute information on the City mobile phone application “Go Akamai” and perhaps we need to better get this message out to all residents for information including the opening of the bypass roads.

Note: Sen. Shimabukuro, along with other area representatives, is trying to find ways to increase the community’s access to WCEAR, and will keep the community posted.

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