Motorists complained about the new rumble strips on Pali Highway, so they will be lowered. The strips were installed for safety reasons. Four sets of rumble strips, preceded by these words, adorn Pali Highway just above Waokanaka Street.

big grumbles, little rumbles

The new safety devices brought
complaints and will be lowered

Motorists' complaints about the Pali Highway's new rumble strips caught the ear of the state Department of Transportation, prompting immediate action.

The department will cut the white half-inch-high strips down by a quarter-inch and create a gap in the strips so motorcyclists can safely maneuver past them. The project should be completed by the middle of next week, said Alvin Takeshita, the department's acting Traffic Branch head.

"We got a number of calls this morning that the rumble strips were doing too good of a job slowing traffic," DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa said yesterday.

Unlike the rounded button-type rumble strips familiar to Hawaii drivers, the polymer rumble strips are actual strips with angled edges creating a jarring effect.

"They're horrible," said Nuuanu resident Virginia Frizelle, who was riding a bus that rode over the strips. "It shook the bus like it was a tin can."

The strips were part of a $418,000 project to slow drivers down as they enter the residential area of Nuuanu on Pali Highway. They were installed this week on the Kailua-bound lanes just before Wyllie Road on the town end of the highway.

The quarter-inch strips were installed yesterday morning on the town-bound lanes just before Waokanaka Street at the Kailua end of the highway. Ishikawa said the complaints came from Kailua-bound drivers traveling over the half-inch strips.

"The intent of the project is to make drivers aware of pedestrians who cross the road, particularly the elderly," Ishikawa said.

Other changes include lengthening several left-turn lanes, installing traffic signs and electronic speed indicators, and repainting crosswalks.

Since the 1999 death of a 90-year-old woman struck by a car as she crossed the Pali near Niolopa Place, the state has been working to make that strip of highway safer. There have been 11 fatalities on the Pali from 1996 to 2002, eight on the Nuuanu side of the highway, police said.

But some motorists complained that the rumble strips are a safety hazard by forcing drivers to slow down too much.

"They're going to cause accidents," said Nancey Garnevicus. "It's like having speed bumps. If you don't know they're there, you could lose control of your car."

Others were concerned about damage to their cars.

The purpose of the rumble strips were to keep drivers at the 35 mph speed limit. It was the first time the department had used the polymer strips for this purpose, Takeshita said. "They were used very sparingly on Farrington Highway to alert drivers."

The button strips were not used because they cause motorcycles to slide, Takeshita said.

He said the cost to modify the rumble strips should not be much "because we're taking off," not adding.

State Department of Transportation


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