Police officer Carl Bannister monitored traffic yesterday after students were dismissed from Kapolei High School.

State OKs Kapolei
stoplights and signs

They will be installed near
Kapolei High and Middle schools

By Genevieve Suzuki and Leila Fujimori

The state is moving ahead with plans to install traffic lights or stop signs at busy Kapolei intersections after residents raised fears about the safety of schoolchildren crossing multilane roads.

On Thursday the board of the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii approved plans to design and install traffic lights at Kapolei High School, where no marked crossing exists, and near Kapolei Middle School.

The decision came after an Aug. 12 meeting at Kapolei High School involving parents, residents, city transportation officials, elected officials, area school representatives and housing agency officials.

HCDCH spokesman Darrell Young said the state agency has been working for years with the Villages of Kapolei Association on traffic safety in the area. He said a segment of the community has opposed traffic signals, while others want them.

Community outcry arose after a 14-year-old girl was hit by a construction truck and seriously injured in late January as she crossed the unmarked street in front of Kapolei High School.

While awaiting the projects' completion, HCDCH has requested special-duty police officers for several of Kapolei's busiest intersections.

"We've made the request, and it's based on the availability of the officers," Young said.

HCDCH owns and maintains the roads in Kapolei until they are handed over to the city.

Only one officer has signed up so far for the post in front of the high school on Kapolei Parkway. HCDCH had asked for 10 officers -- five in the morning and five in the afternoon.

If officers are not interested in the job, Young said HCDCH will either use crossing guards or hire a security firm that specializes in traffic control.

"That's what you call a Band-Aid," said Susan Niemi, mother of the girl hit in January. "It's only temporary. They need to make the area safe for kids."

The state's plans include projects at the following locations:

>> Kapolei Elementary School at Kamaaha Loop and Kamaaha Avenue, and the city park at the second intersection of Kamaaha Loop and Kamaaha Avenue: The project was designed 18 months ago to install traffic signals, but residents are now asking for four-way stops. HCDCH is requesting the city review the feasibility of four-way stops. The lights would have been installed in late December or early January. But because of the possible change in plans, the lights may be installed in late January or early February. If the stop signs are approved, the project may be completed sooner.

>> Middle school at Kapolei Parkway and Kamaaha Avenue; high school at Maluohai and Kapolei Parkway: The board approved funding for design and construction of lights. The plan should begin within six to nine months.

"We've heard the community," Young said. "We're trying to work with them; we're trying to expedite it. We're trying to do whatever it takes right now."

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