City promises brighter lights for deadly road — North King Street in Kalihi will be better lit after three pedestrian deaths

(Via Star Advertiser)

It’s a hazardous stretch of Hono­lulu road where many kupuna often cross the street or look to catch buses in the early morning hours.

Now, with the recent deaths of three older pedestrians hit by vehicles along North King Street in Kalihi, city leaders say they’ll install some brighter streetlights there in the coming days to help better illuminate that area.

Five LED streetlights will go up on King Street near Gulick Avenue and Richard Lane. Mayor Kirk Caldwell called it an “interim action” to address the hazards of King Street in Kalihi, even as city transit officials have already begun to study ways to make that area safer for pedestrians.

“We’re not going to wait to address the problems,” Caldwell said during a news conference Monday.

On June 26 a 55-year-old man was killed when he was hit by a city bus in Kalihi. His death followed two other early morning fatal collisions on the same stretch of King, both in February.

On Feb. 26 a 71-year-old woman died after she was hit by a garbage truck. And on Feb. 4 a 67-year-old woman died after she was struck by a pickup driver.

All three victims were in crosswalks when they were hit.

The investigations into those fatal accidents aren’t done, city leaders said Monday, but they see the LED lights as an interim solution to address growing community complaints.

“People didn’t feel safe, getting up early and going out,” Department of Transportation Services Director Mike Formby said. Once the lights are installed, officials will see how well they work, he added.

It’s also considered part of an effort to eventually replace more than 51,000 street lights across Oahu with brighter, less expensive LED lights, Caldwell said.

“The lighting will help,” AARP State Director for Hawaii Barbara Kim Stanton said Monday. “The No. 1 thing is you have to make sure that pedestrians aren’t invisible.”

It’s also important that pedestrians are reminded to look left, right and left again before entering a crosswalk and that transportation officials look for other design improvements to make the area safe, Stanton added.

City officials will host a public meeting 5:30 p.m. July 15 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center’s Pikake Room to help DTS rank the top 20 street sections in Hono­lulu in most need of upgrades, as part of the city’s Complete Streets program, Formby said. He added that “we wouldn’t be surprised if King in Kalihi eventually topped that list.”

In April the Hono­lulu City Council’s Transportation Committee considered a resolution urging the department to conduct a traffic analysis of North King in Kalihi, but officials said Monday that it was deferred when the committee received assurances that the department was already moving forward with studies to improve the corridor.

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