‘Frankly, it’s delightful’: Traffic down in West Hawaii since stay-at-home order

  • Traffic flows on Highway 11 near Nani Kailua Drive on Tuesday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Traffic flows on Highway 11 near Nani Kailua Drive on Tuesday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Intermittent traffic is interrupted by periods of clear roads at the Keahole Airport Road intersection with Queen Kaahumanu Highway on Tuesday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Intermittent traffic is interrupted by periods of clear roads at the Keahole Airport Rd. intersection with Queen Kaahumanu Hwy. on Tuesday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Traffic since the stay-at-home order hasn’t disappeared in West Hawaii, but it has gotten significantly lighter.

Queen Kaahumanu Highway recorded nearly 52% fewer vehicles at its intersection with Keahole Airport Road in North Kona on April 1, according to the most recent traffic volume data compiled by the state Department of Transportation. Just 14,834 vehicles passed the counting station that day, down from a daily average of 30,772 in 2019.

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Ryan Platt drives Queen Kaahumanu Highway regularly with PFI Rubbish and has seen a definite difference in traffic since Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 25.

“About two weeks ago I would guess traffic was about 20% of normal. Since then it seems to have fluctuated and kind of crept up to about 30% of normal,” said Platt. “Frankly, it’s delightful.”

In town, the traffic station located near Nani Kailua Drive and Highway 11 saw 16,376 vehicles compared with an average of 27,026 in 2019 — a decrease of 39.59%.

The biggest decrease of traffic on Hawaii Island roads was recorded on the cross-island Daniel K. Inouye Highway. On April 1, just 2,426 vehicles were counted near Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area — a decrease of 56.9% from the 2019 daily average of 5,628 vehicles.

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The department said it is making the data available during the stay-at-home order, which remains in effect until April 30, for two reasons: “to verify the capabilities of major state routes to accommodate extended lane closure hours and to provide general data on compliance with the order.”

“After the Stay-at-Home order period passes, HDOT will continue to update the data as an economic indicator for the State,” a press release from the department reads.

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