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Safety concerns prompt increased Hawaii Kai lighting


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We are quite concerned about the negative reaction to our street lighting project in Hawaii Kai. The city has received many questions and comments about the new lighting system that is being installed on Lunalilo Home Road.

The city can no longer maintain the existing street lighting system there, which has now reached the end of its useful life. The new lighting scheme is based on the motor vehicle traffic volume, which in turn determines the classification of the street and its recommended lighting requirements. As we're all aware, the traffic on Lunalilo Home Road has greatly increased over the years due to continued development in the upper areas of Hawaii Kai and in Kalama Valley. The new lighting system is necessary to meet the standards for providing a safe roadway that is used by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. And the use of high-pressure sodium street lighting fixtures for this project is widely used by municipalities throughout the United States.

At the July Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting, the city Department of Design and Construction requested that the board support the completion of the first phase of the project on Lunalilo Home Road and allow the public and the board to evaluate the new street lighting system. The board was informed that if the lighting project is objectionable and if requested, the city will not proceed as planned with the second phase of the project on Lunalilo Home Road and the planned project for Hawaii Kai Drive. Rather, the existing substandard street lighting system will be left as is until such time the city can no longer maintain the existing street lighting system. At that time, then, the city would move to make the necessary improvements.

Some have expressed concern about glare from the street lights. Glare is a factor primarily if the street lights are installed at lower mounting heights. To address this issue and to minimize stray light into the sky, the city has already taken action to replace the street lighting fixtures with flat lens lighting fixtures that are designed to direct all of the light downward.

We have been researching new street lighting technologies such as LED street lights that are promising and still in early stages of development. But this new technology must provide the required illumination on city roadways.

While we appreciate the community's concern with this change, we cannot overemphasize the city's obligation to provide a modernized street lighting system for the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who use the roadway. We believe area residents should support such a worthy goal.

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Craig Nishimura is director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

Related commentary and news about this issue are ”;Turn down new Hawaii Kai Lights”; published on Aug. 13, and “;Kokua Line”; columns published on July 24 and 25.