EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is seeking to remove some mid-block crosswalks on Oahu in an effort to force pedestrians to use crosswalks with stop lights.
In a proposal being considered now, three crosswalks along a quarter-mile stretch of Kalanianaole Highway between Waa Street and Kaai Street would be removed. It's the same area where a 54-year-old woman was killed last year while trying to cross the highway.
The push to evaluate mid-block crosswalks is part of the state's pedestrian master plan, and officials argue getting rid of the crosswalks without signals would boost safety for walkers.
"There are cars in this area going 45 miles an hour in both directions, and we have 80,000 vehicles going through this area per day," said Ed Sniffen, deputy director of the state Transportation Department's Highways Division.
The state also said that said only a few people use the crosswalks and if they were taken away pedestrians would be forced to walk to signalized intersections.
But the chairwoman of the Kuliouou-Kalani Iki Neighborhood board believes the state's numbers are inaccurate. "If you did your traffic study at 8 a.m. on a Sunday it's going to be very different than if you did it when school gets out on a weekday," Heather Lum said.
The city is also proposing to move at least five bus stops near mid-block crosswalks.
"When we worked with DTS to consider the usage in those areas it's also very low, which means that they could justify eliminating those bus stops or consolidating them," Sniffen said.
She said if that's done the spacing between bus stops would be too far for some senior citizens to walk. The board also believes that without the crosswalks, pedestrians will break the law.
"Every member brought that up as an issue, that we're going to have jaywalking galore now," Lum said.
Sniffen said the state's also considering keeping one of the crosswalks and installing a pedestrian activated stop signal. But that would interfere with the timing of traffic lights.
"I'm trying to give a balance between mobility for all and safety for all," Sniffen said.
The DOT is also looking at whether to remove crosswalks without signals on Farrington Highway and Kalihi Street. A decision on the Kalanianaole Highway crosswalks will be made early next year.