Elevated crosswalks to be installed in wake of teen’s hit-and-run death
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state will install elevated crosswalks at key intersections around McKinley High School following the hit-and-run death of a 16-year-old who was headed to class.
“We must do more to protect our students and pedestrians,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki, at a news conference. “We need to do more to slow down drivers and make our roads safer.”
Saiki said the elevated crosswalks, like those on Pali Highway, will be installed in about 30 days. Two will be installed on Pensacola Street while speed humps will also go in on Kapiolani Boulevard.
Kapiolani Boulevard Falls under City and County jurisdiction. The city will partner with the Department of Transportation to put in the two speed humps in the area Sara Yara was hit.
Her mother, Chevy Yara, said the upcoming changes are a good start.
Her message to drivers? Slow down.
“If you’re late for work, call and tell them you’ll be late... Don’t take another life,” Chevy said.
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It comes after a rally was held on Sunday with Sara’s mom and top state officials, calling on improvements to pedestrian safety in the area.
Some drivers have concerns it will slow down traffic flow but advocates say its worth it.
“Definitely will slow traffic down. I’m a driver myself. I’m always in a rush. I think 5 to 10 seconds slowing down in front of a crosswalk or when you see a pedestrian is so worth it. It’s someone’s life and its also your own life,” said Karen Cheung with Ward Village Moms.
The city will also install two raised pedestrian crosswalks outside McKinley High School on Pensacola Street in the coming months.
The DOT started installing the traffic devices in 2019 in Kalihi. So far, more than 75 have been installed throughout the state.
According to the DOT, it costs around $120,000 for each speed humps and raised crosswalks it installs.
DOT Director Ed Sniffen says it will also start installing red light camera this coming on Monday.
Sara Yara was fatally struck last week on Kapiolani Boulevard as she was walking to McKinley High School.
The driver accused of hitting her subsequently turned himself in and has been released pending investigation.
Hawaii News Now found that he had a lengthy list of traffic violations dating back decades.
Since the crash, Chris Gallarde also known as “Uncle Chris” in Sara’s youth group has been volunteering as a crossing guard on Kapiolani Boulevard.
“It’s such a blessing,” said Chevy. “For people to just come out here out of the kindness of their heart and just give their time.”
Gallarde said he wanted to do more after hearing the news about Sara.
“I thought this was the only way I could help out. Praying and stuff is awesome, I just wanted to do something a little more that showed action,” Gallarde explained.
He added that bad driving habits are common in the area.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi pointed out there are more than 8,000 streets on Oahu and a raised crosswalk can’t be installed on every one
“Everyone is a pathway for a potential vehicular accident or someone getting hurt or killed,” he said. “This situation here in a school zone... this makes all the sense in the world.”
DOT Director Ed Sniffen says the elevated crosswalks could be installed by late April.
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