POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 7, 2011
Question: For the past four years, my work has brought me to the west side of Oahu and the Waianae Coast. Every day, while approaching Nanakuli from the east, on the makai side of Farrington Highway near Piliokahi Avenue, there is the "bridge that goes nowhere." It is a massive concrete structure that in four years I have never once seen used. What is or was the purpose of this bridge? How much did it cost?
Answer: The seeming bridge to nowhere is actually a bridge on standby.
It's part of the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Route,
a collection of existing and new roadways to enable traffic to bypass closures of Farrington Highway, said Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city Department of Transportation Services.
He emphasized it is not meant to be a second access route to the Waianae Coast, which he said is an entirely different issue being investigated by the state Department of Transportation.
WCEAR was developed in response to community concerns about traffic accidents and other incidents that closed portions of Farrington Highway, cutting off access in and out of the Waianae Coast, Yoshioka said.
His department worked with the community to identify roadways that could be used to bypass emergency closures of Farrington Highway.
"Where there were no existing roadways, short connector roadways were constructed to provide a continuous path," Yoshioka said.
These connector roadways are gated and locked and opened either by police or the Department of Emergency Management during emergencies.
The bridge was built because a connection was required over Nanakuli Stream, where the emergency route shifts to the makai side of Farrington Highway as part of the Pohakunui Avenue segment, Yoshioka said. The Nanakuli Stream Bridge was completed in 2006 for
Yoshioka noted that some people have questioned why the bridge is so high in relation to Farrington Highway. The bridge is at the correct elevation for flood conditions; Farrington Highway, built "long ago," is below the required elevation.
The bridge, like other connector segments, is usually gated and locked, but it has been opened "on numerous occasions" to help ease extreme traffic congestion because of construction or emergencies, Yoshioka said.
Question: Is food purchased with food stamps taxable? When I go to Longs, they charge tax. The manager says that since it's technically an excise tax, not a sales tax, they can charge. The local supermarkets do not charge. Who's right?
Answer: Both practices are allowed.
The state's general excise tax is imposed on the sale of food, but there is an exemption for food purchased under the federal Food Stamp program, said Mallory C. Fujitani, spokeswoman for the state Department of Taxation.
However, a retailer can choose not to claim the exemption and collect the GET from all its customers, even those using food stamps, she said.
If that's the case, the collected tax has to be turned in to the state.
To Chad. In early April at the Hawaiian Memorial Cemetery, both sides of the road were filled with parked cars. I was in the middle of the road trying to reverse out. It was just impossible until an angel named Chad reversed my car ever so carefully. His truck had to be reversed after mine. I would have been there all day otherwise. Aloha, Chad. -- Helen
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