Sunday, January 27, 2002

Cameras irk
Windward drivers

Residents complain the
speeding program targets
roads where speed limits change

By Leila Fujimori

Windward Oahu drivers say they are being unfairly targeted by the speed traffic cameras, and some are calling for an end to the program, a charge the Department of Transportation denies.

Residents say the speed enforcement vans seem to be staked out at the Pali Tunnel.

"If you consider there are four vans, and each day there are one or two on the Pali, it's very clear that the Department of Transportation has targeted the Windward side," said Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua).

Claudine Tomasa, who commutes daily from Kailua to town asked, "Why aren't they fairly distributed on the island where there's speed racing; why don't they plant them there?"

The Department of Transportation's photo enforcement vans have been stationed on Pali Highway, Likelike Highway and on Kalanianaole Highway near Makapuu. They are also located on the H-1 freeway, Moanalua Freeway and on Kalanianaole Highway in Hawaii Kai.

"We're not targeting (Windward drivers) specifically," said state Transportation Director Brian Minaai.

He said the Department of Transportation plans to expand the traffic camera pilot program throughout Oahu and the neighbor islands.

"As a first step, we're starting in the Honolulu area," Minaai said. "Once we get the glitches out ... after tweaking it, then we'll look to expanding it out."

But Minaai said the department has no timetable to change the vans' locations, which were selected because of chronic speeding in the area. He cited two accidents in which seniors were killed in Nuuanu on Pali Highway.

Minaai said the focus has not been on the number of cars ticketed, but on speeding.

But residents complain the vans are often parked outside the Pali Tunnel, where there are few pedestrians.

"If their concern is safety, why not hit the chronic areas where the fatalities are?" said Kailua resident Carl Morikawa.

"They're targeting the areas where there's a change in the speed limit or if it's downhill," said Morikawa, who is also a police officer.

Sen. Bob Hogue (R, Kaneohe-Enchanted Lake) said, "If truly this is about safety, they would be out on Farrington Highway or Kam Highway near Turtle Bay or Kaaawa where there are accidents."

Kailua resident Carol Vieira said she looks at her speedometer 100 times.

"You just can't help but maybe go a mile or a few over the speed limit coming down the hill," she said. "You could get two or three tickets in one day."

On Wednesday one of the vans was parked on the Honolulu side of the Pali Tunnel while two police officers were stationed with radar guns at the speed display lower on Pali Highway in Nuuanu.

Minaai said the state has not coordinated its efforts with the Honolulu Police Department but would like to do so.

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