Redesign needed to finish Kahekili Highway project
Regarding the Feb. 16 Kokua Line column about the delay in activating new street lights along Kahekili Highway: New metal poles with new light fixtures were installed by the contractor in slightly different locations from the existing wooden poles. Narrow trenches were dug between each of the new poles and in some areas the grass was replanted. Does the state Department of Transportation's response mean that they will be removing the new metal poles with new light fixtures, removing the old wooden poles and replacing them with new wooden poles with new light fixtures?
Q: I live just below the Temple Valley Shopping Center and use Kahekili Highway every day. The contractor has installed new aluminum streetlights between Hui Iwa Street (West) and Haiku Road. A trench was dug between the poles for the power cable and refilled with concrete and a new power junction box was installed. The old wooden light posts are still there with working lights. Along Kahekili between Hui Iwa (West) and Hui Iwa (East), the contractor removed the old asphalt sidewalk next to the Ko'olau Center, installed new drainage and poured a new concrete sidewalk. New aluminum light posts and fence posts are installed. There is no chain link between the poles. This could allow someone to access the large drainage ditch. New handicapped ramps have been installed in the sidewalk and new crosswalk push-buttons installed. The buttons are not working. Originally, the sidewalk was blocked off with signage but people got tired of having to cross the street to use the other side and just moved the signage out of the way. I drove the area from West Hui Iwa to Ahuimanu Drive and each wooden pole on the makai side has a street light on it. There is no evidence of any construction going on and only one small area that looks like work in progress. What is going on? There are no workers at the site, which is sitting uncompleted for more than eight months.
Answer: The project, delayed for as long as it has, is obviously the source of much frustration for people who frequent the area.
We asked Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa if he could clarify his original response to the question of what's going on with the lights, as well as provide more information about the status of the project.
Regarding the first question, Ishikawa said his original response was in reference to the section of Kahekili from Haiku Road to Ahuimanu Place, which was the area in question.
The new aluminum poles referred to above were installed from Haiku Road to Hui Iwa Street (West).
The contractor could not install the new aluminum light poles between Hui Iwa (West) and Ahuimanu Place, as previously explained, Ishikawa said, because a 16-foot sewer force main and an 8-inch gravity sewer line were too close to the proposed location of the poles, which required large concrete footings.
Because of this conflict, the project was halted to allow time for a redesign.
"We could not activate what was already installed because the power requirements between the new highway lighting system and the existing lighting system are not compatible and the existing lighting system is in a series circuit with the power source coming from the Haiku end of the project," Ishikawa said.
If the lights were activated between Hui Iwa (West) and Haiku Road, there would be no lighting between Hui Iwa (West) and Ahuimanu Place, he said.
Ishikawa said the redesign involves replacing the existing wood poles with new wood poles in the same location (to avoid hitting the sewer lines) and replacing the existing lighting system with new luminaries, mast arms and wiring.
The replacement of the wood poles was recently completed by the Transportation Department's maintenance lighting crew and the contractor is scheduled to start the redesign work tomorrow.
Regarding the sidewalk area, Ishikawa said the contractor is keeping the sidewalk closed for liability reasons.
"Since the contractor cannot complete the chain link fence, he wanted to keep the sidewalk closed in case someone did access the drainage ditch," he said. The chain link fence cannot be completed until the existing wood light poles are removed, because they block the path of the chain link fence. Although the fence poles are in, the "fabric" is still missing.
Regarding the crosswalk push-buttons, he said the existing ones should be functional.
He said the contractor will be asked to activate the newer ones when work restarts tomorrow.
The target is still to complete the entire project by the end of May.
My husband and I spent three nights in Honolulu and read about the increasing crime in the area. We are pleased to have another side of that. While eating at the Oceanarium restaurant one day, my husband left his Mastercard there. The manager and staff looked through the reservations, found out where we were staying, then called us while they kept the card in a safe. Pretty nice service. -- Kathy Broman
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