Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Monday, August 8, 2005

Tow response depends
on time of report

Question: On the H-1 freeway town-bound, there is a tow truck that sits on the patch of grass right after the Waimalu exit. What is the purpose? It frustrates me when I hear on the city-and-county traffic report about a stalled vehicle right past there and the tow truck is sitting there doing nothing. Why can't he respond to the stalled vehicle and move it out of the way? Is he part of Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to have roving tow trucks to help ease traffic?

Answer: The tow truck is under contract with the state Department of Transportation, but it is not there as part of the stalled Demonstration Service Patrol project.

That proposed project, having roving tow trucks on the H-1 freeway, is on hold pending resolution of a legal protest by Stoneridge Recoveries Inc.

The existing tow truck contract is completely separate from that project and is posted at a "duty station" after the Waimalu exit to help morning rush-hour traffic flow as smoothly as possible, explained a Transportation Department spokesman.

The tow truck driver is supposed to monitor the traffic flow from the duty station and, upon receiving any report or indication of a stalled or disabled vehicle impeding traffic, he is to investigate and remove the vehicle to an appropriate drop-off area.

If it is an accident and the tow truck is the first on the scene, the driver is supposed to notify the Honolulu Police Department and get instructions from the on-scene police officer.

No vehicles are to be towed without such instructions, the transportation spokesman said. The towing contractor also is not required to provide towing service to stalled or disabled vehicles weighing 15,000 pounds or more.

Meanwhile, if the on-duty tow truck driver does not have clear sight of a stalled vehicle, the "response will not likely be instantaneous," the spokesman said.

That's because the driver is to respond as soon as he hears the city-county traffic report.

Because the reports "are broadcast at different times on different radio stations," the driver "may not hear it precisely when another person does," we were told.

Q: There are several small trees growing atop the bus stop shelter at Oahu Avenue and Cooper Street in Manoa. If allowed to grow any bigger, the shelter might collapse and hurt riders. Who should be warned of the potential hazard?

A: Generally speaking, if you have a complaint or concern about a bus stop or shelter, call the city Department of Transportation Service's Public Transit Division at 523-4138.

In this case the shelter is under a large tree that apparently provides a lot of moisture for plants to grow and thrive, said James Burke, acting chief of the Public Transit Division.

Inspectors don't believe the plants growing on the roof are an immediate safety concern, he said.

"We have contacted a roofer for their recommendation and price quote to complete the work," Burke said.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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