Sunday, November 4, 2001

Silvestre Maramba, 75, is pleased with the year-old traffic light
and crosswalk at Jack Lane on the Pali Highway. He works at
the nearby Children's Center Inc. and has to cross this
intersection every day.

Nuuanu residents
applaud Pali crosswalk

The traffic light on Jack Lane seems
to have improved pedestrian safety

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Seventy-five-year-old Silvestre Maramba shuffled past the speeding traffic on the Pali Highway to catch the bus after working at the Children's Center Inc.

"I used to watch him walk across the street and feared for his life," said the Rev. Tom Fujita of Nuuanu Congregational Church.

Fujita's fears were eased after state transportation officials installed a traffic light on Jack Lane a year ago, where Maramba crosses the highway.

Since the traffic light was installed in October 2000, safety for pedestrians has improved, some Nuuanu residents say.

Resident Carolyn Kato said, "It's been 100 percent safer. ... It's made a big difference."

Transportation officials will update Nuuanu/Punchbowl Neighborhood Board members and residents on state and city improvement projects at a Nov. 15 community meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Stephen's Church, 2747 Pali Highway.

Officials will discuss a draft plan on speed indicators, median openings and speed stripes.

Westley Chun, coordinator of the Pali Highway Safety Task Force, said, "The installation of Jack Lane's traffic signal was our first success."

No critical or fatal pedestrian accidents have occurred on the Pali Highway near Jack Lane since October 2000, said Capt. Bryan Wauke of the Traffic Division at the Honolulu Police Department.

Between 1995 and 1999 five people were killed in the area, including 90-year-old Anna Hara after she attempted to cross the highway at Niolopa Place on June 13, 1999.

Since that fatality, police enforcement during rush hour has been heightened along the highway, said Paula Kurashige, chairwoman of the Nuuanu/Punchbowl Neighborhood Board.

Though some residents say the traffic light has improved pedestrians' safety, some still continue to jaywalk across the highway at Niolopa Place.

"People were accustomed to using the crosswalk (at Niolopa Place)," resident Michael Chu said. Now that that crosswalk has been removed, some pedestrians who want to cross the street have to walk an extra block to be safer, he said.

Resident Ed Onaga agreed the lights have improved the safety for pedestrians but said traffic continues to increase along the highway.

During the last 40 years, Onaga said he has observed the traffic increase "by leaps and bounds."

He's also concerned about those who attend functions at the Philippine Consulate Building on the Pali Highway.

People who go to the building tend to jaywalk across the highway at Niolopa Place instead of using the crosswalk at Jack Lane.

"I'm worried they might get hit," he said. "They should take advantage of the (traffic) light and be cautious," Onaga added.

"If I'm going to cross, I use the crosswalk. I don't want to take the chance," he said.

Bill Yee, a 45-year Nuuanu resident, said, "It's been an asset."

"The benefits gained by (the crosswalk) are well worth it," he said. "It's too bad it didn't happen a few years earlier."

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