A planned extension for Makakilo Drive would connect to North-South Road. It would provide an East-West Road early exit from the freeway for people on that side of Makakilo instead of forcing them to come all the way around and to exit and deal with the congestion of lower Makakilo.

But the project has been in limbo for several years. The road now dead ends midway down the back of Makakilo and at the last house on the street.

There is no reason not to build the extension other than what color the money is. Everybody has agreed the extension is needed. Mayor Kirk Caldwell has spent a lot of money repaving the island, which is good, but the paving of Makakilo Drive really wasn’t needed in a lot of residents’ eyes. It is time to build the extension for safety reasons.

Two reports, one by R.M. Towill and the other by the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services, describe Makakilo Drive as being in a built-out area and there is nothing that can be done to make it safer, save for extending it.

A map of the proposed Makakilo Drive extension. Honolulu Department of Transportation Services

There is only one way in and out of Makakilo. More than 18,250 people call Makakilo home. It impacts the overall quality of life which is deserved in Makakilo.

The new design is 70 percent complete. The redesign has lowered the construction costs to $30 million and there is a $300,000 shortage to complete the design. At 90 percent of design, land owners in the right of way like James Campbell Company and D.R. Horton have to be consulted to give up part of their land via eminent domain for a right of way. This is before the $60 million that is needed to build a three-quarter mile road.

Project No. 1 For OMPO

If anyone would like to spearhead another campaign to at least get the rest of the funding to get the Makakilo extension design finished, that would be great — $300,000 more dollars is what is short.  At one time the extension was the number one priority on the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization list.

Consider for a moment that there are no special tax districts here like they have in California, where they charge developers per new house for the infrastructure needed to support their projects and it is passed on to the new homeowners, most of them from out of the area. Sound familiar?

Now consider these scenarios:

D.R. Horton owns part of the land that the extension runs through. Many residents live in a D.R. Horton house in upper Makakilo as well. They are also building in Hoopili. The James Campbell Company owns the land Grace Pacific is using that is also needed. Many folks were told by a model home sales person when buying a house that the extension was being built within four years. This was in 2002.

If eminent domain gets started, D.R. Horton and the James Campbell Company have to be bought out. Or should they? In this writer’s humble opinion, since their building impacted upper Makakilo, they should use their land, as well as fund and build the project. The rail project does serve the new Hoopili community. All the money could have gone to finishing the extension is going to that.

There is only one way in and out of Makakilo. Over 18,250 people call it home.

What about an alternative of the companies paying for half as a partnership with Makakilo? Or using =matching funds with the City & County?

Here are some other alternatives:

Maybe instead of it being a city road extension of Makakilo Drive, it can be converted to a state project extending North South Road. Developers can help pay for infrastructure like this one via tax districts that can be subsequently created for just their neighborhood of homes starting with the next project to fund this.

Michael Ferreira, at right, with lifelong Makakilo residents Tina, Sophia, Napoleon and Christian Gonzalez, standing where Makakilo Drive currently dead ends. Mindy Buck

As a resident, a lot of thoughts are like this toward developers — if you profited greatly from developing and building out Makakilo or if you are impacting natural resources and are creating an eyesore tearing up the hill with a quarry, perhaps there are reparations for that for the residents. Food for thought.

Now consider that our Council Representative for District 1 — Kymberly Marcos Pine — is in the middle of helping finding funding for the rail system. She inherited the problem. However, there was full funding for the extension, or at least funding was in striking distance, and the mayor pulled it to send to another district. The Mayor is the holder of the purse strings, so it would make sense to go directly to the mayor with this issue, not the council member. 

Developers And Politicians

But why doesn’t the council member want to get fully engaged with this? Take a look at campaign contributors.

Contributors include everybody from D.R. Horton, which owns part of the right of way, to the James Campbell Company to R.M. Towill, which have been continually allocated millions of dollars to do the design work for the project and others. Take a look at the campaign contributors to Pine and it is a lot of developers. Instead of dodging the issue, we should be advocated for and going to them to get this done.

Do you know why this isn’t happening?

The council member may be running for mayor in a year and a half. There is an aversion to not wanting this project to pop up and turn into a failure in the middle of a campaign or fresh on the minds of voters prior. There is a need for personal survival politically for developers’ contributions to be propelled to the next level. Two elements in an election a candidate doesn’t want to upset. It isn’t even a campaign talking point.

So what does Makakilo do? Keep the council member’s fingerprints off this issue? Support her and lobby the outgoing mayor and ask for a project revision and subsequent state support?

It is my belief that Mayor Caldwell may plan on leaving office and is grooming the District 1 representative. But, If he wants to stay in office, this may be a big coup for him to get a project done in that district.

Is anyone up for it? There is a bigger groundswell forming among Makakilo residents who want the extension. There is money that can pay for it by the people who own the right of way. It can become a North-South Road extension and become the state’s kuleana. James Campbell and Company owns what Grace Pacific is using and D.R. Horton owns the other part. A matching-funds arrangement is going to be the clearest path I can see.

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