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Monday, October 23, 2000

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin
Though the lights at Jack Lane on the Pali will not be switched on
until next Monday, the Nuuanu community celebrated yesterday,
drawing together the groups that helped see the project through.

Nuuanu cheers
its long-awaited
crossing light

It recalls the last person killed,
in hope 'never again
will it happen'

By Treena Shapiro

Robert Schmitt remembers when a good friend was struck by a car and thrown several feet while crossing the Pali Highway.

The friend, Otto Orenstein, survived the collision but has since died, said Schmitt, retired state statistician.

Since 1994, five pedestrians have been killed and more than 200 injured trying to get across the highway, prompting the state to install a traffic signal at the Pali and Jack Lane. Yesterday, Nuuanu religious communities blessed the newly erected lights, which are scheduled to begin operation Oct. 30.

Surveying the new traffic light, Schmitt said, "They obviously need it." His only concern is whether the walk signal will be long enough for the elderly to get safely across the street.

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin
A blessing was led by the Rev. Tom Fujita of Nuuanu Congregational
Church, left, Rabbi Avi Magid of Temple Emanu-El and the
Rev. Mike Young of First Unitarian Church.

The blessing, led by the Rev. Tom Fujita of the Nuuanu Congregational Church, Rabbi Avi Magid of Temple Emanu-El and the Rev. Mike Young of the First Unitarian Church, was attended by the members of the interfaith advocacy group Faith Action for Community Equity, Nuuanu residents and the family members of Anna Hara, 90, a pedestrian who was killed crossing the road last year.

"It was a year ago, June 1999, in the middle of a Sunday morning sermon that the sickening crash was heard outside the building one block down from here as a delightful old lady coming from her church service was struck crossing the street and killed," Young said.

"We are blessing these lights today in the hope that she is the last, that never again will it happen," he said.

The traffic signal was erected due to the organization of community groups, the Nuuanu Neighborhood Board and local residents, Fujita said.

"For years it was at an impasse. They said, 'Oh, yes, yes, yes, maybe, possibly, no, there haven't been enough people killed yet.'"

But two years ago, the Faith Action for Community Equity got involved and helped the community make contact with politicians, such as state Sen. Rod Tam, and government officials responsible for the intersection.

"We continued to meet with them and continued to put the pressure on, and it got kind of ironic, because every time we met with them the goal got a little bit closer," he said.

The state began the $6 million project in July.

Although the lights will not be functioning until next week, the signal was blessed with prayers and holy water, children spread a rainbow ribbon across the highway, and Magid blew the shofar, or ram's horn, to draw attention to the new signals.

"We are very, very happy we're going to be able to have some way to help control the flow of traffic," said Magid.

"This is going to help save lives."

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