'Massive' lighting project disrupts Hawaii Kai road


POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009

Question: Lunalilo Home Road has been torn up for months with an unknown project on both sides of the road. Recently, one could surmise that it is a lighting project as pedestals have been installed. Can you confirm what is being done? If it is new street lighting, what was wrong with our existing lights? Also, when may we expect completion?

Answer: A lot of Hawaii Kai residents are wondering the same thing.

The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board approved a motion last month asking the city to halt work until the board gets more information about “;the massive replacement project,”; said Chairman Greg Knudsen.

It hasn't heard back yet from city officials.

The project calls for installing about three times as many street lamps as there are now, Knudsen said.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann issued a brief news release earlier this year saying the city was upgrading the street lights on Lunalilo, from Kalanianaole Highway to Hawaii Kai Drive.

He said the nearly $2.5 million project was another “;important aspect”; of the city administration's efforts to upgrade the public infrastructure, “;from fixing sewers to repaving roads.”;

The first phase entails installing 144 streets lights from Kalanianaole to Koamano Street at a cost of $1.96 million. The second phase, involving 32 lights from Koamano to Hawaii Kai Drive, will cost nearly $570,000.

The entire project is targeted for completion in March.

Knudsen said the community was not consulted nor informed about the project until after it had started.

It apparently started out as one to repair underground wiring that became corroded and failed. Currently, above-ground wiring connects several of the light posts, Knudsen said.

“;But we have no explanation nor understanding as to why”; that means three times more lights are needed, he said. “;We've never had any complaints in the neighborhood about a lack of light.”;

Because it appears there will be many more street lights than before, “;we've questioned (the project) on a number of different levels—expense, necessity, light pollution, roadside obstacles. It does have a number of people baffled.”;

The first phase of the project calls for replacing the existing 48 light fixtures with 144, while the second phase would install 32 posts where there now are 11, Knudsen said.

The result would be “;an ultralit corridor, which isn't consistent with the residential nature of the area,”; he said.

The topic is on the agenda of Tuesday's neighborhood board meeting—7 p.m. in the Hahaione Elementary School cafeteria.

Question: Can you please provide information on what will happen to vehicle access to Kona Street once the guideway of the rail transit is built?

Answer: It's way too soon to say how each street will be affected by a rail system.

You can find information about the proposed 20-mile Honolulu Rail Transit project online at honolulutransit.org.

The project, to connect West Oahu with downtown Honolulu and Ala Moana Center, calls for elevated rails. The justification for elevated guideways is that they “;require a smaller construction and operational footprint, minimizing impact to property owners and the community than rail lines built at ground level.”;