Street-cleaning hours subject to UPW rules


POSTED: Thursday, May 28, 2009

Question: Does the state Department of Transportation have to run street cleaners on the H-1 freeway—going either east or west—at 8 a.m. while traffic is still heavy? Westbound traffic is bad because there are fewer lanes because of the ZipperLane. Doesn't the state have any consideration for the already frustrated commuters?

Answer: The highway maintenance crew hours were set by the Department of Transportation “;way back in the '70s”; and won't be changed anytime soon.

Any changes to the 6:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. hours would be subject to negotiation with the United Public Workers union, according to transportation spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

However, while cleanup does take place in the morning, concessions are made for certain areas of the H-1 and Nimitz Highway, she said.

For traffic reasons, workers do not sweep the H-1 from the Middle Street merge to the King Street off-ramp, eastbound—“;one of our most congested corridors at all times of the day”;—during the day, Mori said.

That area is swept from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“;During this time, we'll often do portions of Nimitz or some of the on- and off-ramps, as well, on overtime,”; Mori said. However, she said this uses up the eight hours of overtime that is allotted each week for cleanup.

The normal cleaning schedule for the H-1, from the Keehi Interchange, near the Department of Transportation baseyard, to the Waipahu Interchange and back is this: The crew normally leaves the yard between 7 and 7:30 a.m., reaching the Aiea area, westbound, between 8 and 8:30 a.m.

Question: My father passed away and as a tribute I was thinking of releasing balloons into the sky while playing the song “;99 Red Balloons.”; Are there restrictions regarding releasing helium balloons in Hawaii?

Answer: While some states do have laws restricting the mass release of balloons, there are no state or county laws or restrictions in Hawaii about the release of any kind of balloon.

However, you should make sure the balloons you are releasing are not the metallic (i.e., Mylar) ones. Also, look for biodegradable latex balloons.

We addressed this subject before—see archives.starbulletin.com/2007/04/22/news/kokualine.html.

There are concerns about the effect deflated balloons have on birds and marine life, as well as the litter they may cause.

However, the balloon industry says there are many misconceptions and erroneous statements made about the dangers of releasing balloons.

Still, even the International Balloon Association told us it does not recommend the release of metallic balloons and promotes only “;the responsible release of 100 percent biodegradable latex balloons.”;

With graduation season approaching, Hawaiian Electric Co. has launched a campaign to remind people not to release metallic balloons because they have the potential to cause power outages.

HECO also recommended that balloons be tied to a weighted object, but not tied together because a cluster of balloons is more likely to snag a power line. It also advises against using metallic ribbons and asks that people deflate a balloon before discarding it. If you see a balloon caught in a power line, call HECO at 548-7961.