Drivers, pedestrians left in the dark under airport viaduct - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Drivers, pedestrians left in the dark under airport viaduct

Most lights are out under the Nimitz viaduct Most lights are out under the Nimitz viaduct
Marshall Mole Marshall Mole
Dan Meisenzahl Dan Meisenzahl
Richard Kastle Richard Kastle
As dark as it may seem, the conditions still meet safety standards As dark as it may seem, the conditions still meet safety standards

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some drivers say they can't see well enough when traveling under the H-1 Freeway airport viaduct at night. The street lights have been out for several weeks now.

With not much more than their headlights to rely on, drivers navigated their way down a darkened stretch of Nimitz Highway beneath the H-1 airport viaduct.

"I think it's dangerous, especially for people crossing," Marshall Mole, Salt Lake resident, said. "Yeah, it's hard to see if anybody is coming out from behind the pillars."

State transportation officials say two transformers had been supplying power for the overhead street lighting in the area for 30 years, since construction of the viaduct was completed in 1981. Six months ago, one of them died.

"Unfortunately, the second one, the backup one, it blew out about five, six weeks ago," Dan Meisenzahl, state Department of Transportation, said. "That's when people noticed that the lights were out."

A company was already in the process of building a transformer to replace the first one. The state expects to receive it and have it installed by early next month.

Until then, area residents say they'll be worried about driver and pedestrian safety.

"People can get hit. I've nearly gotten hit four or five times," Richard Kastle, Pearl Harbor resident, said. "A lot of them don't really pay attention in the crosswalks and you never know what's going to occur. People come flying down here like it's a speedway."

Transportation officials say their roadway lighting policies have since changed. Hawaiian Electric Company now handles those projects and maintenance.

"HECO will come in and fix it. Chances are the lights will come on a lot faster," Meisenzahl said. "Unfortunately, we can't say, oh, by the way, take these old transformers, too."

The state says it didn't put up temporary lighting because, as dark as it may seem, it still meets safety standards.

"If it didn't meet safety standards, then, of course, we'd be putting temporary lights in," Meisenzahl said. "But it does with the headlights. The stop lights are working. The crossing signals are still working."

The state says each transformer costs about $5,000, and another $1,000 to install.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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