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Hawaii NewsWhatever Happened To

Lunalilo lighting slows after initial progress

QUESTION: Whatever happened to the Lunalilo Home Road street lighting replacement project that was opposed by some Hawaii Kai residents?

ANSWER: After the first phase of the lighting project was electrified in March, the city installed more lights between the mauka Kaumakani Street intersection and Wailua Street, but is waiting on Hawaiian Electric to install wiring in the area before it can be illuminated. HECO, however, said it cannot provide power to the lights until it receives city approval of trenching permits needed to install underground wires.

Once the second stretch of lights is lit, the city says it will seek the approval of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board before moving forward with the third and final phase, between Wailua Street and Hawaii Kai Drive.

The installation of street lights along Lunalilo Home Road — originally described as a maintenance issue by the city — began in early 2009, but was halted amid complaints from the neighborhood board that the lights would ruin the aesthetics of the major thoroughfare and pose a safety hazard to drivers blinded by high-wattage lights.

The board and the city in September reached a compromise to allow the first two phases — from Kalanianaole Highway to Wailua Street — and allow the Board to evaluate the project to determine whether the third phase is needed.

Construction delays have pushed the board’s vote on the final phase beyond the city’s June 30 deadline to use the allocated funds. That means money to complete the final stretch of lighting will need to be re-appropriated by the city before construction can begin.

At a public meeting on June 28, the neighborhood board criticized the city for dragging its feet on the project and failing to notify the community of the funding deadline. Chairman Greg Knudsen accused the city of trying to give the board a "slap on the wrist" for its early opposition to the project by letting the funds lapse.

City Department of Information Technology Director Gordon Bruce, who represented Mayor Mufi Hanneman at a meeting, said the city was just acting in accordance with the wishes of the Hawaii Kai board. Bruce told the board that even though the funding has lapsed, it has not been permanently lost.

"You can seek re-appropriation of funds to complete the project," he said.

The first stretch of lights was electrified in March to mild community approval. Knudsen said the lights — which use 100-watt bulbs instead of the 150-watt bulbs that were originally planned — were less glaring than he anticipated.

"We did acknowledge that overall the lighting was pleasant, but we still question the need for so many poles and just the expense of that," he said.

This update was written by Travis Kaya. You can write to us at What Ever Happened to …, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 5294747; or e-mail cityeditors@staradvertiser.com.


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