DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
State crews have installed countdown timers at 16 intersections along Ala Moana Boulevard to help increase pedestrian safety as part of a $14.2 million road resurfacing project. This woman saw she had enough time to cross Ala Moana Boulevard yesterday if she ran across the street.
Timers installed at crosswalks
The state has installed 100 countdown timers at 16 intersections on Ala Moana Boulevard to help increase pedestrian safety, a Department of Transportation news release said.
The counters began operating Tuesday and show pedestrians how much time they have left to cross the street before the signal changes.
State crews installed the timers from Fort to Piikoi streets along Ala Moana Boulevard as part of a $14.2 million Ala Moana road resurfacing project.
Countdown timers at Piikoi Street will not be functional until April, when the electrical wiring should be finished.
By law, pedestrians are not allowed to step into the street after the countdown timer has already begun or a red hand has started flashing on the pedestrian signal.
Roadwork on Ala Moana Boulevard will continue toward Piikoi Street the week of April 7 and is scheduled to finish in June.
Officers snuff stuffed bunny hunt
WAILUKU » State conservation enforcement officers were investigating an unauthorized stuffed bunny hunt by a Maui radio station that had hundreds of listeners scrambling over lava rocks at Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.
Board of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman Deborah Ward said officers had not made a determination if anything had been damaged in the reserve or what action might by taken about the unauthorized activity at the reserve in South Maui.
The reserve is a protected state area with unique features, including anchialine ponds containing some rare plants and animals.
Ward said radio station KPOA apparently conducts these bunny hunts annually as an Easter promotion, and the person finding the bunny receives a cash prize.
Ward said her department first learned about the hunt yesterday morning when a ranger noticed hundreds of people parking in the area, about twice the usual number of this time of year.
She said an officer notified the station of the problem, and a station official drove to Ahihi-Kinau to expedite the discovery of the bunny.
"It kind of wound up quickly," Ward said.
"The station apologized. We appreciate that they were cooperative."
Ward said the real treasure is the natural resources at Ahihi-Kinau.
"We want to make sure people understand it should be respected," she said.
Lingle releases playground funds
Gov. Linda Lingle has released $1.5 million to install new playground equipment at 17 public schools statewide. The project is part of the state's ongoing efforts to improve safety at playgrounds.
Last year, Lingle released $2.35 million for the design and construction of playgrounds at 25 schools statewide.
Under the new allotment, the new playgrounds at designated schools are scheduled to be completed by December 2009. The schools are Haaheo Elementary School and Kalanianaole Elementary & Intermediate School on the Big Island; Koloa Elementary School and Waimea Canyon Middle School on Kauai; Kula Elementary School and Pukalani Elementary School on Maui; and Enchanted Lake Elementary School, Ewa Beach Elementary School, Hawaii Center for the Deaf and the Blind, Jarrett Middle School, Kaneohe Elementary School, Koko Head Elementary School, Mililani Waena Elementary School, Nanaikapono Elementary School and Pearlridge School on Oahu.
Police, Fire, Courts
Police blame speed in death of biker
A 44-year-old man died Tuesday night in a motorcycle crash in Moiliili.
Police said that at about 9:40 p.m. the victim was driving a 2006 Kawasaki motorcycle Ewa-bound on Date Street, just before Laau Street, at a high rate of speed.
When the man tried to pass a car in front of him, the motorcycle struck the right back corner of the car, police said. The victim lost control, struck a parked vehicle and was thrown from the motorcycle, police said.
The man was taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where he died. He was not wearing a helmet, police said.
Police said excessive speed was a factor. The man's identity was not yet released by the city Medical Examiner's Office. This is the 11th traffic fatality of the year, compared with 20 at the same time last year.
Medical examiner IDs crash fatality
An 84-year-old man who died in a head-on collision Monday afternoon has been identified by the city Medical Examiner's Office as Charles Ritter of Kailua.
At 2:52 p.m., Ritter's car crossed the center line on Kamehameha Highway near Kualoa Ranch and collided with a van. A 51-year-old woman driving the van was hospitalized in serious condition.
West Hawaii area closed due to fire
HILO » A 600-acre grassland fire forced the closure of the Puu Anahulu Game Management Area in West Hawaii yesterday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said. The cause of the fire, which started Monday, is believed to be lightning, the department said.
The center of the fire was four miles southeast and uphill from Waikoloa village, on the mauka side of Mamalahoa Highway. There are no homes in the area.
The fire was burning through non-native fountain grass growing on the rough terrain of the old Keamuku lava flow, the department said. There are no endangered plants in the area.
Forty-five firefighters from state, county and military agencies have been fighting the fire, the department said.