New raised crosswalk slows down traffic in Kalihi and more are on the way

A new raised crosswalk is slowing down traffic on Kalihi Street (as planned)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new crosswalk is slowing down traffic on a busy stretch of Kalihi Street. And officials say that’s exactly why it was put in.

The so-called “tabletop crosswalk” is raised slightly above the regular pavement, and is the first of several planned for the area.

There are posted signs warning drivers about the crosswalk and to slow down to 20 mph.

A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said thousands of cars pass through the area everyday. But so do thousands of students.

“There are about 3,700 students who go to school directly in this area,” said Tim Sakahara.

“It’s right across the street from Kalakaua Middle School, it’s right up the road from Farrington (High School), right down the road from Kalihi Kai Elementary School.”

The posted speed limit in the area is 25 mph. But many drivers are known to go faster than that. The raised crosswalk took some of them by surprise.

“It’s a heavy traffic area, and they put that bump in there, and then everybody slows down, and then there’s more traffic,” one motorist said.

But slowing down is exactly the point, according to the DOT.

“We really want people to change their culture in driving, especially near school zones, to really slow down for the safety of themselves and the people crossing the street,” said Sakahara.

“Groups of kids have a tendency to be looking down,” added Lance Rae, of Walk Wise Hawaii.

“They don’t necessarily have cell phones with them, but they’ll be carrying a backpack or talking to friends, so they’re not really paying attention while crossing the street. So having something elevated like that is perfect for kids."

The DOT is making several improvements on that stretch of Kalihi Street, and plans to install four more raised crosswalks on the stretch between Dillingham Boulevard and North King Street.

It’s still something new that drivers have to get used to ― even if they think it’s a good idea.

“When we were rushing to an appointment today, it was kinda, very bumpy,” said Aloha Sabalo, who was riding in a car with a friend. But when asked if it was a good thing, she replied, “Yes, I think that it is very important.”

Copyright 2019 HawaNews Now. All rights reserved.