Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, June 17, 1999

Pali off-ramp guardrails
on repair list

Question: About six months ago, a fire rescue vehicle going town-bound on the Pali Highway took the exit ramp connecting to the H-1 eastbound. It flipped on the ramp and smashed all the guardrails. The railings have been in deplorable condition since then, although there have been blinking lights to warn motorists. How much longer must citizens wait until the state replaces these highly damaged rails? Does government only act when it is being threatened by a lawsuit? (Two separate complaints.)

Answer: If the state Department of Transportation's Highways Division is able to get an emergency procurement from the state Procurement Office as you read this, repairs to the most damaged guardrails along state roadways can begin as early as next month, said Oahu District Maintenance Engineer Kelly Lee Sato.

The Pali off-ramp guardrails are among them, but may not be first on the list. The main concern is safety, Sato said. Still, repairs there should take place within the next few months.

Your complaints came "just in the middle" of efforts to speed up the entire repair process, said Sato, who became the maintenance engineer in December.

In May he met with the state Department of Accounting and General Services and that's how the emergency procurement request -- allowing his office to bypass formal contract procedures -- came about. Earlier, he met with the attorney general's office to ask for help in expediting insurance claims and with traffic design staff who are working with federal highways workers in developing guardrail standards for the state.

Sato said his office fields numerous calls from people complaining about damaged guardrails, including one man who said he counted 100 damaged railings between Makakilo and Hickam.

"My plan is to look at the most damaged areas," Sato said, then develop "an overall attack program." At the same time, his office is readying a construction contract that will go out to bid for guardrail repairs on Oahu.

Because of the nature and amount of work involved, certain repairs can't be made until a contractor is hired, said Martin Okabe, the DOT's Oahu District Engineer.

Okabe said rail repairs often are made during broader construction projects in an area. But none is scheduled in the Pali area.

There are roughly 1,136,900 lineal feet of guardrails on state highways on Oahu and a crew of eight (without a permanent supervisor) responsible for their maintenance, Sato said. Currently, that crew doesn't have the equipment to install new guardrail poles, although that equipment is on order, he said.

Those workers also are responsible for 765,000 lineal feet of fences, plus crash cushions, he said.


To the lady who drives a late-model Cadillac, whom I see rummaging through and taking household and clothing items left for Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores in Kaimuki over weekends for the past month. Don't you know that you are stealing from the disadvantaged and underprivileged and those who cannot afford a nice car like the one you drive? -- Joshua

(We gave the license number you provided to the Honolulu Police Department. In response to a similar complaint, HPD advised calling 911 immediately. Police can either talk to the alleged offender, send a warning letter or file a report.)

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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