Friday, May 11, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Pali traffic light
makes it safer for
pedestrians, but cars
still speeding

Landscaping and signs
are planned to get cars
to slow down

By Pat Gee

More plans are in the works to save lives along the Pali Highway. They include landscaping, new signs and other measures to make the highway appear narrower as motorists pass through lower Nuuanu.

All these changes are designed to "give people a different feel, to remind people it's a residential area" and to be more careful, said Westley Chun of the Pali Highway Safety Task Force.

Chun said the city should start construction this summer on two gateway signs at Waokanaka and Wyllie Streets to remind people they are entering a neighborhood. A landscaping project would block the view of the oncoming three lanes of traffic to give drivers the impression the road is narrower which tends to make them slow down, Chun said.

A meeting is being held at 6:30 p.m. May 17 at St. Steven's Church at 2747 Pali Highway to discuss these and other traffic-slowing devices, he added

In September, another meeting will be held to discuss a state plan to close some median openings, eliminate some crosswalks, improve signage, and restripe the roadway to make it appear narrower.

All this follows the installation last October of a traffic light at the Jack Lane intersection. That additional light came "a little too late" for George Hara. His 90-year-old grandmother, Anne Hara, was killed as she was crossing the highway at Niolopa Place on June 13, 1999. Niolopa is about a block makai of Jack Lane. Hara was one of five people killed in the area since 1995.

Hara said the new light has not slowed down traffic. Every day he hears cars "screeching" to a halt.

Most of the time they have to stop for groups of people crossing from the nearby bus stop to the Philippine Consulate General instead of walking up to cross at the light, he said. Hara, who lives in his grandmother's house, recommended morving the bus stop closer to the Jack Lane intersection, and also urged the police to enforce the speed limit more frequently.

His neighbor, Ed Onaga said traffic is still "terrible; it's gotten worse," and urged the state to put in speed traps at the Jack Lane intersection that would photograph offending drivers.

"They're going 50 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone. It's so scary," he said. Onaga is especially concerned for older people, some with canes, trying to cross the street in front of his house instead of walking to the intersection where they can cross with the light.

Honolulu Police Sgt. Harvey Hisatake said pedestrians may have a "false sense of security" now that there's a light, though no injuries or deaths have been reported since it was installed. Cars regularly speed at 5 to 10 miles over the 35-mile-per-hour limit, he said.

"People (motorists) keep thinking it is a highway, but they're forgetting it's a residential area as well," Hisatake said.

City & County of Honolulu

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