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By Ku'ulei Funn, editor

 

According to a letter to the University, the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (DOT) will be issuing a work order to install additional signage, repainting of the crosswalks, and widening of the space between the crosswalk and the current vehicle stop line to increase pedestrian safety on the Kamehameha Highway near the Hawai‘i Loa campus. DOT will also request that the City and County assign this area to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) to further enforce the speed laws.

HPU Vice President for Administration Rick Stepien requested, in October, that a traffic signal be installed at the crosswalk to increase pedestrian safety in the area. In late December 2007, the acting director of transportation, Brennon T. Morioka had responded to the request after an investigation of the area. In his letter to Stepien Morioka wrote:

“ Based on traffic and comparatively low pedestrian volumes and pedestrian patterns, as well as the extremely close proximity to the major intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Pali Highway, a traffic signal is not warranted or recommended at this time.”

“ HPU has been addressing this issue with the state Department of Transportation since 2001,” said Stepien. “Over the years, we have had complaints from students, faculty, and staff about the dangers for pedestrians trying to get to the bus stop across Kamehameha Highway, as well as vehicles trying to exit or enter,” he added.

Accidents in the area have raised attention to this matter even further. “We have had serious accidents, mainly vehicular, in the last five-six years, one involving an HPU faculty member who was seriously injured, and this past year, one involving a marine science student driving out of campus,” said Stepien.

According to Stepien, more than 2,000 students and faculty access the campus on any given day. The University will be expanding the Hawai‘i Loa campus in the next three to five years, increasing the daily campus population. This poses a greater concern as the expansion will increase traffic in that area as well.

HPD is starting to take measures to enhance safety in the area. “HPD did set up a laser gun last week, and hopefully, we’ll see more in the months to come,” said Stepien.

However, although DOT and HPU are taking measures to enhance the safety of the area, students and faculty are asked to be cautious when accessing the Hawai‘i Loa campus.

“ We ask that all HPU people entering and exiting the campus do so with the utmost caution and care,” said Stepien. “Knowing that the area has inherent hazards mandates that all employees, faculty, and students take prudent and appropriate personal measures to be extra cautious.”

 
 

 

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