Protesters rally against barriers at Laniakea Beach

By Brenton Awa
Published On: Dec 08 2013 05:36:00 PM HST

One lane, each direction too many cars. It's the north shore problem in Hawaii that won't go away. The state and residents are grappling over traffic issues.

HALEIWA, Hawaii -

North shore residents were out waving signs Sunday, protesting against the State Department of Transportation's short-term plan to install barriers at the parking area across from Laniakea Beach. Residents have been dealing with the traffic issue there for years.

Click here for Brenton Awa's report.

"This summer it was almost unbearable. It was an hour and a half drive to get from Haleiwa to here," said Mike Biechler, representing the nonprofit group End Turtle Traffic.

The problem is that too many people park across from the beach and walk across the highway, many of them to see turtles. Some protesters are calling out the state's decision.

"Putting these barriers here is ludicrous to me," said Larry Mcelheny, a Pupukea resident.

Opponents say the state didn't listen to the community. Residents took an informal vote on the barriers back in September, with a majority against the plan.

"The task force spoke clearly against the barriers and the department said it doesn't matter, we're doing it anyway," said Gil Riviere, a former task force member for the community.

Still, some of the community sides with the state, saying any action is better than no action. But protesters tell us that's the opinion of just a few.

"Look at the horns honking. There's so many people here that are against these barriers, but it's sad that the D.O.T is not listening," said Mahina Chillingworth from DaHui.

These residents fear the state's temporary solution will become permanent.

"It's like closing our stadium, it's like closing a stadium that has a high access rate," Reno Abellira, a surfer.

Meanwhile, some say the traffic mess is already clearing up in the area because of the small steps, like issuing parking citations and tour companies that have been taking their business farther down the road.

"The traffic situation has improved considerably because of that," said Mcelheny.

A Department of Transportation spokesperson says that the barriers are still scheduled to be put up by the end of the year. They'll block off the parking area for one month as the DOT will monitor the project's effectiveness to determine whether the barriers should stay for a longer period of time.

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