Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Sodium lights glow red
when starting up

Question: I've noticed that many of the streetlights near the Aikahi waste-water treatment plant on Kaneohe Bay Drive have a reddish tint (instead of yellow or white). Is this a new type of bulb (or lens) that we'll see more of in the future, or is there a special reason that these lights are different?

Answer: There's nothing new about the lights.

You're seeing red for a reason and because you're in the area just when the lights are turning on.

The lights near the waste-water treatment plant are the 90-watt low-pressure sodium (LPS) type, according to Clarice Kam, an electrical engineer with the city's Department of Facility Maintenance.

Low-pressure sodium lamps have been used for decades throughout Oahu, particularly near the shoreline areas.

"With LPS, light is produced by electric current passing through vaporized sodium," Kam explained. "When first started, the light output of an LPS lamp is red, characteristic of the excitation of neon gas used to start the lamp."

Gradually, the light turns the characteristic yellow as the sodium is vaporized, she said.

It takes seven to 15 minutes for the light to crank up to its full output.

Based on your query, Kam said the street light operations supervisor surveyed the area last month and verified that the lights were taking seven to 12 minutes to come up to full brightness.

She said the city encourages the public to call the Street Light Office at 564-6113 (a 24-hour number) with any city street light questions or concerns.


To all drivers who run and/or speed up through the red light at the Bishop Street and King Street intersection. I've been working downtown for more than a year now, and every day I see pedestrians almost hit by these insensitive drivers. I highly doubt that that many drivers out there are colorblind. Red means stop, not speed up! To all pedestrians (especially the elderly and children), here's a warning: Even if the signal shows it is your turn to cross, remember to look for oncoming traffic before even stepping into the crosswalk. Look before you walk. -- Marie Antoinette Racimo


To the driver of a truck who had to use the emergency ramp on the Pali Highway about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26. I don't know who he was. I'm not even sure it was a man. My family and I were traveling down the Pali in the right lane, going toward Kailua, when I suddenly noticed a truck to the right of me in my side-view mirror. It was very close -- "Objects in the mirror are closer than they seem." Then the driver was behind me, then to the left of me, then "he" had to cut in front of the car in front of us to go up the emergency ramp. That driver had such skill. He managed to miss us and the car in front of us, and traffic just kept on moving, as if that was an everyday occurrence. I just wanted to thank that person for having extreme driving skills. If not for that driver, I'm sure we would all be in the hospital suffering from many injuries. Thank you, thank you, thank you. -- Janice Peoples, Olympia, Wash.


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