Letter Roundabout Runaround.

Dear Department of Transportation,Concerned Elected and Emergency Officials, News Editors,

I tried to attend the informational meeting on the Pahoa Roundabout last evening but had to leave once the announcement was made Pahoa has no choice in the matter.  Perusing the roundabout design, I fail to see how one lane circling is a safe exit for Pahoa and lower Puna in general, much less in an emergency.  To be clear, the DOT is telling us, the residents of Pahoa, that they are spending multi-millions of dollars on our safety?  

Look at what is being proposed.  As it is now, at least we have separate lanes coming and going, a turn lane, and a merge now at Malama.  In the event of a disaster you all are are expecting an orderly evacuation on that one lane cattle-chute roundabout?  Just one accident and the cars are going to be pinned in a circle, backing up very quickly, and the emergency responders won’t be able to access, they will have to walk in and no one will be able to get out of town.  Eventually the roundabout gets increased to two lanes…

Pahoa can’t wait for eventualities anymore.  It is time to help Pahoa with modernizing the entrances to Malama, Woodland Center, Hawaiian Beaches and Post Office Road immediately.  You can use the money for the roundabout to accomplish all those projects.  We have been waiting for years and years to get our fair representation and a decent road for Pahoa.  Do we have to file more civil rights complaints to get fair treatment?  I’d like an answer to this letter at your earliest convenience.

Very Sincerely,

Sara Steiner

18 replies
  1. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Dear Sara – your premature exclamations show misinformation.
    Round abouts ARE modern, and used successfully around the world. They are safe!
    And Puna/Pahoa had years of input into the design!
    What are you talking about?
    An information meeting is just that.
    Too bad you didn’t stick around for the information.
    Your comments would have been informed.
    Your preloaded response contradicts excellent engineering
    Save victimhood for when somebody does something bad to you.
    This is a good thing for Pahoa.

  2. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Sara Steiner,

    As a member of your community, I appreciate the concerns you seem to have for all of our benefits. If you would be so kind as to making a better proposal for the solution to our traffic woes and possibly illustrating it here so the rest of us could see your point better, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Mahalo and Aloha

  3. ScottRAB
    ScottRAB says:

    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world.
    The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works. The smaller size of properly designed modern roundabouts is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph (30 kph) range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 3,200 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

    Modern, slow and go, roundabout intersections have less delay than a stop light or stop sign (http://tinyurl.com/mythbustersRAB), especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.

  4. Francine
    Francine says:

    You’d be amazed how helpful roundabouts can be. We are seeing them more frequently on Kauai and it has alleviated some traffic issues where you sometimes had to wait forever to access the main highway from side roads. The only problem is, that majority of people have no clue how to drive in a roundabout. It’s a YIELD not STOP at all entrances, but some will stop and sit there forever trying to figure out what to do…

  5. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    “Yield” signage is part of every drivers license exam.
    Can we presume that people know the difference between “stop” and “yield”?
    Or are Hawaii drivers inherently
    inferior to drivers worldwide?
    A brief review of the FACTS shows the safety/traffic benefits of roundabouts.

  6. Mathew
    Mathew says:

    It’s funny (not funny) when you can tell the author just from how it’s written before you even read the signature. Sara “Whiner” is upset yet again about something. Wow, newsflash! While Sara has at times had some intelligent opinions, the frequency of her numerous complaints and failure to offer any solution to the problem are starting to get tired.

    I suppose I could sit at the picnic tables at The Natch all day and listen to people rambling on and on complaining about what is wrong with the world, but who has time for that?

    Positive attitude and a willingness to work together makes more sense than leaving a community meeting in a huff and blogging about it later.

  7. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    Dear Commenters,

    WTF? What happens if there is a hurricane and PGV blows out again? How many folks, like 7,000 or more? have to squeeze through that one lane???

    I am trying to let the DOT do it’s job, but they do not have the best interest of “safety” for Pahoa. Take a poll, most of the folks who want a roundabout don’t live here and wouldn’t be commuting it. Believe me, they are laughing in Honolulu at the thought of us Punatics driving around in circles.

    What I am saying is that almost the entire 96778 population has been squeezed through one lane for how many years now? So the DOT is going to spend 5+ million buh to not only squeeze you through one lane, but it’s a circle that people coming from all ways need to navigate and if and when there is an accident we have no other way out.

    I’m not an engineer, but you could use the appropriated land and money and build 2 lanes each way, couple of traffic lights and crosswalks and you’re pau. Oh, maybe you could use the extra buh to fix the broken CD sirens. Easy and simple.

    Sorry I have had a bad attitude since Iselle, but our government has caused massive damage and suffering with their responses to the last few disasters, and I seem to have a new mission in life, to help get fair treatment from all government agencies for Pahoa. We Punatics are not their experiment in how to treat people crappy anymore, I’m not the only one tired of it.

    So, maybe I need to take an anger management class…Trying to let it go, so I may be more effective ; ) I certainly don’t sit on the bench at the Natch… well, maybe 3 times in the last year… for 10 minutes to eat something.

    Sara xox

  8. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Dear Sara,
    May I suggest you take another look at the KNOWN dynamics of roundabouts, as well.
    Please don’t insist on being willfully ignorant.
    You are ignoring the well established science of roundabouts efficiencies.
    These efficiencies work under heavy traffic conditions.
    Maybe you are attached emotionally to an anti-govt stance.
    This doesn’t help with clear thinking.
    Re-read scottRAB’s comments, PLEASE.

  9. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Dear Sara, I just took a moment to re-read your postings.
    I challenge you on three of your assertions:
    1)You say “Believe me, they are laughing in Honolulu at the thought of us Punatics driving around in circles.” If you provide ANY evidence for this I might believe you.
    Otherwise why should I believe you?
    2)Secondly you say …”our government has caused massive damage and suffering with their responses to the last few disasters…” Remind me, what massive damage and suffering did the govt inflict.
    3)You say “…most of the folks who want a roundabout don’t live here…” Well, yes, since roundabout use is International, those appreciating it’s functionality are in, at least, the many hundreds of thousands.
    (And they don’t live here.)
    If you are trying to say that most people who live here don’t want a roundabout, that is pure speculation.
    Resistance to good change is a hallmark of Reactionary thinking.

  10. Puna Ohana
    Puna Ohana says:

    These people who attack you Sara will be no where to be found or back on the mainland when the accidents start happening at that intersection once the plug is installed.
    YES traffic circles/round-a-bouts are used all over the world where people know how to drive. Not in a place where people don’t even know how to MERGE…period!
    Not to mention PULL OUT into the flow of traffic UNSAFELY, like at the last moment. Wait till you get closer…
    You can see this EVERYDAY at any intersection feeding I30 another perfect example of DOT lame design capabilities.

    WHERE is the off ramp to the Keaau Dumps? They made a merge lane coming out of it. Why not one for people turning into it? Instead stopping the second/slow/right lane or having a bunch of right lane drivers hop to the fast/left lane at the last moment. Accidents waiting to happen because people don’t even know who has the right of way or even what that means.
    It means you aren’t supposed to pull out in front of someone where you cause them to even touch their brakes.
    Impeding the flow of traffic is a ticket that never gets written on this island. There aren’t any traffic cops, so anything goes unless a responding patrol sees it. The 6-7 cops we have on duty in Puna at any one time, are going to domestic/community complaints primarily.
    If they see a blatant traffic infraction on the way they MIGHT stop someone.

    Yea this circle will be a big plug just like the seem less right turn that joins the Keaau by-pass to Hwy 12. I guess it does slow down the 60 mph traffic on the bypass.
    The second lane on the I30 section from the dumps to Shower has just insured people will go faster, and they are.
    Sara is completely right, despite all the falala from people talking about other places and what they do, like Puna is like other places. Even as hard as the Newbies try to make it like every where else. But you are totally right, it will make long line in every direction feeding it. When the first accident happens all these pro-circle folks will be eating their words. Pay them no mind.

    You know the DOT won’t respond. I can’t wait until it opens. Gonna be right there with a video camera compiling the bump and grind for a video I can post to YouTube or jackass.com. LOL people as so malleable because they get their info on TV or FB.

    I actually liked multi-lane European traffic circles. My first was in Paris. But Parisians can drive. Italians are better. Germany! Autobahns! but Puna? I think the DOT is high. Yes Puna/island drivers, no matter where they are from, can’t drive. Pass on double solid lines, cut across turn only lanes like they aren’t there. Cut people off, make illegal U-turns on 130, pass on the shoulder, don’t know how to get up to the speed of traffic to merge smoothly. Everyone is in a race to get to the next red light first.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Puna too.

  11. greg owen
    greg owen says:

    I am looking forward to see who will be right…..I have ran across 130 say 75 times from kahakai to malama side…sometimes I can saunter other times very scary… one time I saw this Hawaiian mother carefully cross the highway with2 small children…one she was pushing in a stroller and the other child held her hand….I held my breath….she made it ! Can pedestrians cross here in the new plan? Sara does overreact on occasion- me too-but she is very smart. There is a difference between whining and thoughtful constructive criticism though. What is gonna be fricked up is the yearlong rerouting of traffic thru pahoa…gonna be a lot of frusterated ticked off drivers…and hey watch out carefully for pedestrians and people walking on the side of the road ! yesterday I saw a cop on his smartphone driving on the road….he looked up guilty and pissed…eh brah no hit me !…. and I always like kelly’s comments.

  12. Sara Steiner
    Sara Steiner says:

    Hello all,

    Before I left the meeting I questioned one of the DOT representatives where the crosswalks were for Hawaiian Beaches/Shores as 4,000 people live there, he looked at me as said “does anybody actually walk there?” So, as far as folks in Oahu laughing at punatics trying to navigate roundabouts, I have 6 words for you: Land And Power In Hawaii, Baby ; )

    I want you all to know, our crosswalk for the Hawaiian Beaches/Shores subdivisions is incorporated INTO THE ROUNDABOUT. So, in addition to the thousands of vehicles circling on one lane, we have the crosswalk there too. Later in the meeting Mr. Sniffen was reported to have said, we can’t install a 2 lane roundabout, the rules say we have to install a one lane roundabout

    Regarding damage inflicted by government emergency responders:

    Look, the National Guard was here the next morning after Iselle – WITH NO TOOLS OR ANYTHING BESIDES THEIR IPADS TO DOCUMENT OUR DISASTER. They watched the community cut its way around Puna and the community had to move boulders off road, while emergency responders watched them work.

    Since Iselle was downgraded at last minute, FEMA applications didn’t get approved (kinda almost like it didn’t happen to the gov).

    The businesses and residents of Pahoa incurred massive losses due to premature evacuations and recommendations from trusted officials, losses which were not refundable because the evacuations were not real. We live on an island of 5 volcanoes, we have international expert on volcanoes and civil defense emergencies who would have offered his services free of charge, did anyone call him??? Political grandstanding more important than Pahoa loud and clear….

    Then we have government regulated insurance companies counting more than Lava Zone dwellers. If you want to sell insurance in Hawaii, you have to offer lava insurance to those who want and can afford it. People buying their dream homes had to leave and lost much money. Legislators hopefully fixed that issue this year.

    I could go on but I am kinda busy working on a meeting about these very issues ; )

  13. Puna Ohana
    Puna Ohana says:

    LOL “to see if it works”, like all the rest of it. If it were Kona they’d build the road, sidewalks, street light and bustops, BEFORE any houses or businesses. Like that Ane Keohokalole Hwy. WTF? is that?
    But face it, no money no power. Puna gets to be one guinea pig once again.
    Notice the 55 mph sign as soon as you ho past the BBQ restaurant? And notice how the new widened 2 lane hwy. is 45 mph? And WHY did the widen the road and not make it 2 lanes full time in both direction? Who does this crap?

    And Sara is right. Not only did the NG cruise by in their Hummers while we were chainsawing trees off the road after Iselle, they said they couldn’t get out and help because they were surveying.
    And talk about over kill cutting off the road and businesses in Pahoa. When the NG closed off the roads that was nothing compared to what this experiment will do. Traffic WILL be backed up all the way through town, inching along, for a year? lol As Mr. T would say, “Sucka fool”
    And what help did they offer at the 2 Today Show at the Pahoa Community Center? Small Business LOAN. No grants, no FEMA, fuck you ask Helping Hands. And those adventure seekers did a little here and there with local labor volunteers, they were “organizers”. Mostly show little go.

    Yea don’t look to the gov. for anything sensible. I wouldn’t trust them with my safety.

  14. James Weatherford
    James Weatherford says:

    Aloha Sara,

    Please consider, presently, at and approaching said intersection, there is 1 lane going south and 1 lane going north. After the roundabout is completed, there will be 1 lane going south and 1 lane going north.

    In the event of an emergency that requires mass evacuation from south to north, there will be zero traffic traveling south, and traffic will be directed by police officers, and traffic will be going at a slower speed. With or without a roundabout at that intersection, such an evacuation could involve both lanes used for traffic traveling south to north.
    And, if the electricity is out, as it could well be due to storm winds and/or geothermal blowout, a signal light would not function.

    The roundabout presents zero reasons to be afraid.

  15. Puna Ohana
    Puna Ohana says:

    They? DOT? Public Works?, they…whoever had them in HPP at R/R when they were anticipating open it as the alt.route when the lava was threatening, remember? They were put there by HPP I’m sure. They,… the same they that plans to waste money on a circle, COULD try, a solar signal FIRST, to see how it controls traffic.

    But it goes back to what I’ve been saying, drivers here can’t drive. I don’t see any problem at that intersection as it is. IF…, we had good drivers and they knew who has the right-of-way then there should be no problem.

    But as I was driving past Woodland center on 130 going south yesterday, as soon as I pass the shopping center complex, a truck on the egress road crosses behind me to go down to HB. Across a solid white line and a double yellow, around the orange plastic dividers and hooks a U-turn.
    And I guarantee you, you could sit there all day and watch others do it too. Garuns…

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