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State considers removing 3 Pali crosswalks


  • The Department of Transportation considers changes to improve pedestrian safety.
  • FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Sesnita Moepono, front left, and Lynn Vasquez joined other members of the public at Nuuanu Elementary School last night for a meeting concerning a proposal to remove three crosswalks along Pali Highway to improve pedestrian safety. Moepono said the plan would instead benefit cars.
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Crosswalks and bus stops at three intersections on Pali Highway may be removed to improve pedestrian safety.

The state Department of Transportation is looking at the Pali Highway intersections with Ahipuu Street, lower Dowsett Avenue and Wood Street, a project expected to cost about $300,000.

"The problem is the unsignalized crosswalks," said state highways Administrator Edward Sniffen. "And the reason they’re using the crosswalks is because they’re walking to the bus stops."

Harriett Matsumoto, 81, was killed in a January pedestrian accident near Dowsett Avenue. In response, the state did a study on how to minimize pedestrian accidents along Pali Highway.

AT A GLANCE

» About 50,000 vehicles travel on the Pali Highway every day.
» The speed limit in the residential area is 35 mph.
» There are three signalized intersections and seven total crosswalks between Laimi Road and Waokanaka Street. Traffic signals are located at Laimi Road, Puiwa Street and Waokanaka Street. In that same area, there are six town-bound bus stops, and eight Kailua-bound bus stops.

The Transportation Department held a public meeting last night at Nuuanu Elementary School to gather residents’ thoughts on a solution.

From 1998 through 2008, there were 13 pedestrian accidents on Pali Highway between Laimi Road and Waokanaka Street, three of which were fatalities. Of the 13, 11 occurred during the day, and eight of the victims were 50 and older.

The most heavily used crosswalks without signals are on Ahipuu Street and Dowsett Avenue, according to the state. The least-used crosswalk is at Wood Street.

The state could also consider removing all crosswalks and bus stops, but Sniffen said that would inconvenience residents in the area who rely on mass transit. Adding traffic signals would slow drivers down, but it may add yet another heavily congested freeway to the island.

"That’s part of the problem: It’s a residential area," said Transportation Director Brennon Morioka. "You could be on the verge of gridlock on Pali Highway."

Wayne Yoshioka, city Department of Transportation Services director, said he is concerned about the removal of bus stops, because many elderly live in the area. He recommended having buses turn around to pick up passengers on the other side of the highway, since most pedestrians use the crosswalks to get to their bus.

Sesnita Moepono, a candidate for City Council who lives in the Nuuanu area, had an uncle, Philip Kong, die of a pedestrian accident at the Jack Lane intersection in 1995.

"I don’t think it’s really going to help the residents of Nuuanu," Moepono said of removing crosswalks. "I think what they’re doing is creating a better flow for the cars. … They need to change their mindset, and think about moving the pedestrians as safely as possible, and still encouraging use of the bus."

For crosswalks that aren’t removed, the state will consider in-pavement lights and rectangular rapid flashing beacons to improve visibility, Sniffen said.

 

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