POSTED: Monday, March 23, 2009

Traffic increase bucks national trend

Hawaii and a few other Western states show an upswing in traffic volume this year, contrary to the nationwide trend of a decline in driving, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation report.

Hawaii registered a 1.6 percent increase in miles traveled in January compared with January 2008. There was a 1.5 percent increase in California, and traffic also rose in Nevada and Oregon. The rise in traffic on Hawaii roads is a change from a trend that prevailed here in 2008 during an escalation of gasoline prices. For example, December traffic volume on Hawaii roads was 5.2 percent less than in December 2007.

Nationwide, Americans drove 3.1 percent less than in January 2008. The decrease in driving is a trend that began in December 2007, according to the report.

Traffic Volume Trends are reported monthly by the Federal Highway Administration, based on information collected by the states.

The report does not pose possible causes for decline or increase. However, gasoline prices might be a clue. The average cost of gasoline in Hawaii in January was $2.35, compared with the January 2008 average of $3.50.


FEMA funds available for lost work

People who lost work because of the severe rainstorms Dec. 10 to 16 could qualify for financial compensation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Disaster Unemployment Assistance last week for Oahu residents who could not reach their workplace because of the weather conditions or who were injured due to the storm. The federal agency responded to a request from Gov. Linda Lingle, according to a release from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

April 20 is the deadline to apply for compensation. For information or applications call the Hawaii Tele-Claim system, 643-5555, or visit a state unemployment claims office.


Alumnus offers UH students funds

A University of Hawaii-trained entomologist who invented the Sentricon bait termite elimination system has established an endowment to help graduate and undergraduate students at the UH-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

The Nan-Yao and Jill Su Endowed Fund for Entomology will support students with scholarships, awards, research, travel to conferences and other related expenses as deemed appropriate by the department, the UH Foundation said in a news release.

The Sus are donating $35,000 initially, and a charitable trust established by them will provide another $90,000 over the next 15 years for the endowment.

Nan-Yao Su earned a doctorate in entomology under the tutelage of emeritus professor Minoru Tamashiro. His initial work on what was to become the Sentricon system began while working with Tamashiro, the foundation said.