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Sunday, July 14, 2002



Malfunctioning
signals snarl traffic
on Kalanianaole

Light synchronization sensors
break down, interrupting traffic flow


By Diana Leone
dleone@starbulletin.com

Town-bound traffic on the Kalanianaole Highway slowed to a crawl yesterday morning, apparently because sensors that synchronize traffic lights broke down.

Honolulu police dispatchers started getting calls as early as 7:30 a.m. about lights near Kalani High School. Between 9 and 10:30 a.m., calls peaked, said a police dispatch supervisor. Traffic resumed normal flow after noon.

"We were viewing (on city traffic cameras) from Kalanianaole and Laukahi Street," said the supervisor, who asked not to be named. "Eastbound traffic went almost twice as long as westbound traffic. It was backed up almost to Keahole Street in Hawaii Kai for a while."

City traffic light workers arrived at the Laukahi Street intersection at 10:35 a.m., city spokeswoman Carol Costa said.

"The state resurfacing of Kal Highway had damaged loop sensors" that control the lights, Costa said. "It took a while for us to hook up temporary microwave detectors to get that intersection to function properly. What it basically was doing was falling back on an un-synchronized setup."

Costa said workers then adjusted timing at the Kalaniiki Street intersection, finishing the work at about 12:15 p.m. "The city did not cause the problem, we fixed it," she said.

The city is contracted by the state to synchronize all traffic lights on state highways.

However, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said she talked with a supervisor who said there was nothing about work done Friday that could have caused the problem.

Kali said some of the traffic lights on streets that intersect with the highway were adjusted several weeks ago to a timed sequence instead of sensors until the repaving work is complete.

Contractor Grace Pacific has been working on a $3.8 million project replacing waterlines and resurfacing the highway between the H-1 freeway and Aina Haina. No one at Grace Pacific Corp. was reachable for comment yesterday.

"We had the same issue last week, and they (city workers) did come out and we thought that it was fixed," Police Lt. K. Ferreira said. "We will be monitoring the traffic at that intersection."

Hilo resident Gale Takeya was among those stuck in traffic yesterday morning, trying to get her nieces and nephew from Hawaii Kai to their swimming lessons in Palolo.

They left in plenty of time to make the drive under normal circumstances, but instead it took an hour, and when they arrived the class was almost over.

"It seemed like from traffic light to traffic light took about 10 minutes," Takeya said.

To keep the kids, ages 5 and 6, from getting restless, she asked them to look around and see what other motorists stranded in traffic were doing.

"We saw this lady plucking her eyebrows," she said.



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