As residents and visitors alike know, a trip across Oahu’s North Shore on any given day, let alone on a weekend, can be an exercise in frustration and futility, with cars backed up for miles at choke points like Laniakea, Chuns and Sunset Beach.

For many local residents, it makes day-to-day life, whether getting to work on time, picking up the kids from school, going to the market or surfing a wave, a nightmare. For visitors, it makes Hawaii feel about as appealing as a vacation on a Los Angeles freeway.

The problem is complex – affected by a growing population, increases in tourism, and other pressures — but the biggest obstacle to finding a solution has been the lack of cooperation between the overlapping authorities of the state and the City and County of Honolulu, as well as a lack of coordination in developing and implementing real solutions.

North Shore traffic, Oahu
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a common experience for North Shore residents, making everyday activities a constant headache. Dan Zelikman/ Civil Beat

Over the past four years, with two different Republican representatives in the State House of Representatives, the problems have only grown worse.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, voters on the north and windward shores have an opportunity to move things in a positive direction. Putting a Democrat in the District 47 seat, one who will be able to work closely with the region’s Democratic senator, means that solutions are much more likely to be found, funded and delivered.

In fact, these two Democrats – highly respected state Sen. Gil Riviere and smart, energetic House candidate Sean Quinlan – both have built strong relationships in communities from Waiahole to Wailua and could be a real powerhouse. They could work in partnership with the state’s majority party leadership to bring much needed attention to a region that has been neglected for far too long.

Riviere has been working with the state Department of Transportation, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and other agencies to develop realignment possibilities for Kamehameha Highway. Quinlan has been involved with a community coalition that has developed a detailed plan to alleviate traffic and sustain the deteriorating shoreline at the most troublesome bottleneck, Laniakea Beach.

We know what hasn’t been working over the years. It’s time to give the promising alternative a chance.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author

  • Joe Wilson
    Award-winning documentary director/producer Joe Wilson got involved in documentary filmmaking through his social activism on human rights issues. Frustrated by the limitations of traditional organizing and advocacy, he picked up a camera with hopes of reaching broader audiences with stories that would inform and compel people to act. In addition to Kumu Hina, Wilson's filmmaking work include Otros Amores and Out in the Silence.