Saturday, December 4, 1999

New Pali traffic light
due in 12 months; Tam
wants it by June

By Crystal Kua


A plan to have a traffic signal installed by next December along a dangerous stretch of Pali Highway in Nuuanu is not soon enough for the area's state senator.

"They have to work faster," Sen. Rod Tam (D, Nuuanu) said. "I don't want to wait another Christmas."

But state transportation officials say the process to put a traffic signal at Jack Lane is being expedited and they can't go much faster because they have to meet certain regulations.

"It's not possible with the laws on the books," state highways Administrator Pericles Manthos said. "We're frustrated too, but we can't ignore the rules and regulations."

That portion of the Pali Highway has a long history of pedestrian and car accidents, with the most recent occurring Thursday. Residents have complained cars drive too fast there.

Tam wants the traffic signal completed no later than the end of June and is circulating petitions that call for the state Department of Transportation to meet that time frame.

In the meantime, however, Tam, police and state transportation officials say motorists need to slow down and drive with caution when they are in the area or they could find themselves in deadly consequences.

"They can kill themselves or someone else," police Traffic Division Capt. Brian Wauke said. "Maybe they don't realize the consequences."

On Thursday, an 80-year-old pedestrian was injured when he was struck by a car at the Jack Lane intersection. He was in serious but stable condition at Queen's Hospital yesterday.

Last June, a car struck and killed Anna Hara, 90, while she was in a Niolopa Place crosswalk, a block from Thursday's accident.

The traffic signal is designed to slow down speeding cars and create a safer path for pedestrians to cross the busy six lane highway.

Manthos said the traffic signal is already on a fast track.

The project is currently being designed and will be ready for advertised bids in April. The bid should be awarded by July and construction should begin in November. The traffic signal is expected to be operational by December.

Between the awarding of the bid and construction, materials for the project would be ordered.

The design cost is $90,000 and construction is $400,000.

The original completion date of the signal was May 2001.

Honolulu police have been highly visible along the Pali Highway in recent months to deter speeding, Manthos said.

Wauke said police plan to continue enforcement along Pali Highway.

"As far as enforcement, there's a limited effect. The rest deals with engineering and design," he said.

Wauke also pointed out that while drivers slow down when police are there, they probably drive faster when police aren't there.

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