County hopes to allow trailers at certain transfer stations by March

Trailers could be allowed at certain county transfer stations as early as March of next year.

Since the Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management announced in April that all trailers and dump beds would be prohibited at all Big Island transfer stations, residents and County Council members have urged the department to reconsider.

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At a Tuesday meeting of the council’s Regenerative Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management Committee, Environmental Management Director Ramzi Mansour said new rules permitting trailers at four specific stations could be finalized by March 1 and would go into effect shortly thereafter.

Mansour said reallowing trailers will require certain actions that cannot be expedited, including the creation of site-specific traffic control plans and training transfer station staff to properly direct trailer users.

Ever since the April announcement, Mansour has asserted that the use of trailers at transfer stations presents a safety risk, because none of the stations are designed for trailers, which can strike other users, vehicles and infrastructure, and which many drivers are unaccustomed to using.

However, in October, Mansour identified five stations that could be modified relatively easily for the use of trailers with 3-cubic-yard capacities with dimensions of 6 feet by 9 feet.

One of those stations, in Waiohinu, has a pending construction project and therefore cannot be modified soon, Mansour said. The other four — in Hilo, Pahoa, Waimea and Kealakehe — would have site-specific days allowing the use of trailers.

The remaining 17 transfer stations will remain trailer-free for the time being.

Some council members grumbled about the delay. Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said he believes the rule could be changed sooner — and shouldn’t have been changed in the first place — but he did not pressure Mansour to act more quickly.

During an October council committee meeting, County Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Strance chastised council members for suggesting the county speed up the process by waiving liability for possible damage or injury.

However, Kohala Councilman Tim Richards said Tuesday that the “categorical disallowment” of trailers should be reconsidered.

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“The people in my district, they use big trailers, and they know how to use them,” Richards said.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune- herald.com.

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