A $7.3 million project aimed at improving traffic conditions at Honolulu International Airport is receiving a failing grade from upset taxi and shuttle drivers. The main culprit is a new traffic signal by Hawaiian Airlines baggage claim C, which has not been synchronized with existing traffic lights.
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"The traffic is getting worst after they activated the traffic light, especially at lunch time when a lot of flights are coming in," said Johnny Cheng, owner of Honolulu Airport Express. "This whole area is like a parking lot."
The traffic signal was activated May 10 and there have already been three official complaints lodged with the Hawaii Department of Transportation's Airports Division. Critics claim the amount of time to circle the airport has nearly doubled.
"It's very congested and when all the flights are coming in, we have to wait like 15 to 20 minutes to get through the traffic," said taxi driver Wayne Nguyan.
Meanwhile, both taxi and shuttle drivers are concerned about another new traffic signal on Aolele Street that is still flashing yellow. They fear once that signal is activated, it could exacerbate the situation.
"I don't know," said Nguyan. "I think they made a mistake."
HDOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said the new traffic signals are part of the agency's Roadway Improvements Project, which includes the refurbishment of six sets of elevators at the overseas and terminal parking structures, and the demolition of the Miyasaki gas station.
"You have people coming from the baggage claim area and they can go two ways, they can either go to the baggage claim or exit the airport," said Sluyter. "So there's a lot of crossing (and) the signals are there for safety reasons."
HDOT admits the new traffic signal by baggage claim C needs tweaking and that process is scheduled to start Thursday at 7 a.m.
"Obviously right now we've had some complaints and we do want to make some adjustments," said Sluyter. "They'll be adjusting it back to flashing for now while they can figure out the correct synchronization."
Right now it's not known how long it will take HDOT to assess the situation and come up with a course of action.
"We'll monitor that and see what they can do to actually synchronize the lights, and make it better and safe for everyone," said Sluyter.