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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: State will fix traffic-light cycle at Pali Highway and Vineyard Boulevard

Question: When traveling down Pali Highway and stopping at the lights at the intersection with Vineyard Avenue, the lights take an inordinate amount of time to cycle. The traffic flowing along Vineyard Avenue has a green light for a long period of time, to the point that traffic coming down the Pali gets agitated and you see cars moving forward, anxious for the lights to change. The lights for pedestrians crossing the highway stay on for a long time, and then there is a 30-second countdown before they go red. Can this inordinate cycle time be addressed?

Answer: Improvements are promised, but not until this summer. Here is the response from Shelly Kunishige, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation:

“The traffic signal timing at Pali Highway and Vineyard Boulevard is currently set to provide for pedestrian crossing by default as there is no pedestrian push button at the intersection. We will be upgrading the traffic signals at Pali Highway and Vineyard Boulevard as part of our Pali Highway Resurfacing Phase II from Vineyard Boulevard to Waokanaka Street. The traffic signal upgrade, which will include by- demand pedestrian signal phasing, is expected to begin later this summer. Until then, we ask for the continued patience of those that travel along this corridor as we operate with the default timing for the safety of any pedestrians needing to cross at this intersection.”

Q: I sat along the freeway one afternoon and counted 40-plus Tesla cars without a front license plate. I verified that all the ones I saw had back license plates, so they definitely weren’t brand-new cars. Is there some type of Tesla exemption to the law that allows only Tesla to not mount their front license plate? If such a rule doesn’t exist, they why isn’t enforcement being done to stop this disturbing trend? I think most people, if not required to mount a front license plate, would rather not.

A: No, there isn’t an exemption for Teslas. We get frequent complaints about them lacking front plates, and occasionally about other types of electric cars. They’re covered like other motor vehicles by Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 249-7, which requires motor vehicles (not motorcycles, semitrailers or trailers) to have front and back license plates. The law even says what motorists should do if the car doesn’t have a plate holder: “The owner shall securely fasten the number plates on the vehicle, one on the front and the other on the rear, at a location provided by the manufacturer or in the absence of such a location upon the bumpers of the vehicle and in conformance with Section 291-31, in such a manner as to prevent the plates from swinging. Number plates shall at all times be displayed entirely unobscured and be kept reasonably clean.”

It could be that some of the cars you saw have not yet been registered in Hawaii, and came from states where a front plate is not required. State law requires a car owner to transfer an out-of-state registration within 30 days of the car’s arrival in Hawaii, but that rule has been waived for a period during the pandemic, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Q: What data is Hawaii keeping on that Safe Travels app?

A: “The Safe Travels digital platform stores the traveler’s profile, trip, health status and quarantine information. The platform will provide the State Department of Health access to the mandatory health information that passengers need to provide to monitor and protect public health. Certain non-health information also can be used by the State Attorney General and county law enforcement officials to enforce the quarantine rules. The information will otherwise be kept confidential,” the state Office of Enterprise Technology Serv­- ices says on its website,

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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