Hitting a Red Light
If you drive regularly in town, you might have noticed a new traffic light array at the intersection of Beretania and Victoria, between Thomas Square Park and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. You might also have noticed it doesn’t work, blue tape still covering the unlit LEDs, months after they were installed. What’s the hold up?
Turns out the problem is underground. In addition to upgrading the traffic light, Honolulu City and County’s Department of Transportation Services also wanted to install wheelchair ramps into the sidewalks. (The intersection gets a fair amount of pedestrian traffic, thanks to its proximity to the Academy and the First United Methodist Church.)
But as workers broke ground, they ran into trouble. “When they started to dig for one of the ramps, there was a drain line that wasn’t indicated in the plans,” says DTS director Wayne Yoshioka. “It’s a recurring problem, especially in the older neighborhoods of Honolulu. A waterline will be indicated in a certain place, and then we’ll go in and it’s not where it was supposed to be. New projects have taken care of that, but in older areas, it’s easy to get surprised. This particular intersection hadn’t been touched since the ’60s or ’70s.”
Yoshioka says his engineers had to redesign the curb ramps so they wouldn’t conflict with the drain line, which meant putting the project on hold, traffic signal and all. The design process is just about done, though, and he says the new lights should be turned on by next Thursday (October 21). Until then, the old traffic signal will still be working.