In the 2000 United States census, the population of Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii, was reported to be 1,075. This number may seem small until you realize that there are literally thousands of tourists on vacation who “live” in Poipu on a regular basis.
In the past six months, however, the area’s actual residential numbers have been experiencing exponential growth. According to one developer I spoke to, who wished to remain anonymous, the population of Poipu is projected to grow by a whopping 600% in the next five years.
The problem? The town is not designed for such a large influx of visitors and residents, and the roads are already suffering from increased use and outdated infrastructure.
I took a drive through Poipu, Kauai, to investigate this new growth. Just six months ago, a drive down Poipu Road (the main road that cuts through the south shore) went through acres of undeveloped property, green trees and unrestricted views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. Now, both sides of the road are edged with 10-foot-tall black tarp behind which lurch large trucks and construction equipment erecting new condos, new hotels, and a 1,000+ new, multi-million dollar homes.
All of this new construction has prompted the Kauai County Council to research and commission studies to determine how this is impacting the south shore of Kauai, Hawaii.
Yesterday, according to a resident of Kauai, Hawaii, who is familiar with the ongoing of the council, the Kauai County Council received the results of their commissioned study and are looking into finding funding to put into place the road infrastructure that the study calls for.
Current highway upgrades are already occurring in Poipu, although much more is needed to alleviate the stress on the aging roads of Poipu, Koloa, Omao and Kalaheo. For example, at the bottom of Omao Road, the south shore’s first “roundabout” is being built. Unfortunately, it is redirecting traffic from the thousands of new buildings in Poipu directly up Omao Road, an old two-lane road that winds through an old residential neighborhood, hardly a good place to force a couple thousand cars every day.
Poipu Road itself, across from the Waikomo Streams condos, is completely closed and traffic is being diverted down the road near the Sheraton Hotel. The road has been closed for nearly 4 months.
And at the point where Poipu Road enters Old Koloa Town, traffic gets so backed up that a normal 2 minute wait at the stop sign can now take upwards as long as 20 minutes (as I experienced a few weeks ago while heading to Kalaheo).
The Kauai County Council will issue another report to determine the results of its study and exactly what actions it will take to alleviate the traffic problems mounting in Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii.