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Residents say lights out


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

About 20 angry Hawaii Kai residents gathered yesterday to protest the planned installation of 176 new lights along several major roadways in the area, nearly tripling the current amount.

“;The people in Hawaii Kai don't want or need these lights,”; said 61-year-old Kalama Valley resident Adrienne King, who has lived in the area for 17 years. “;It's wasted money ... and it's gonna light up this road like a Christmas tree.”;

In all, three phases are currently being considered by the city to add additional lighting that stretches from Lunalilo Home Road to Keahole Street along Kalanianaole Highway. Phase one, which extends from Lunalilo Home Road to Koamano Street, is under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

According to Craig Nishimura, city Department of Design and Construction director, design of the $2.5 million project began in 2000, when the city determined that “;it would be more cost-effective to replace the light poles”; and electrical wiring in the area rather than maintain those that have been in place since the roads were created in the 1960s. Gerald Hamada, the department's Mechanical and Electrical Division director, said the amount of lights for the area was increased based on a 2001 and 2006 study that “;evidenced a high amount of traffic exceeding 1,200 cars”; per hour throughout the day.

;[Preview]    Hawaii Kai lights project draws protest
  ;[Preview]
 

The city is tripling the number of street lamps along Lunalilo Home Road, and some Hawaii Kai residents are calling the project wasteful and unnecessary.

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Despite the project's use of flat lamps that would shine lights directly onto the roadway, residents are concerned that more street lights will create light pollution. In an independent study, University of Hawaii astronomy professor Richard Wainscoat concluded that the increase of light fixtures would “;overlight the road by about 50 percent and cost the city about $21,000 a year to light this part of the road.”;

Although protesters also claimed that they were never informed about the project, Hamada said that public hearings are not required for these types of projects.

Some residents and legislators believe that the money could be used for other projects that are greatly needed.

“;There's so many other demands for the community, not just here in East Honolulu, but throughout the island,”; said City Councilman Charles Djou, who lives along Lunalilo Home Road. “;We're raising taxes and amending the budget, so this should be one of the lowest priorities of the city. Why we're spending so much money on this is beyond me.”;

“;It's shows a lack of management of money and awareness of what is happening in the community, which I think is appalling,”; said 29-year-old Hawaii Kai resident Makani Christensen. “;Something needs to be done, and hopefully this stand will make something happen.”;