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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 14, 2001

Transportation planners march to their own drum

It's clear that the state Department of Transportation has a job to do in Kane'ohe, knows exactly how to do it, and has little interest in listening to the folks who have to live with it — even though they hate the results.

One wonders whether the department's traffic engineers believe that any highway design that will work in Los Angeles will work here. That might explain why they built a huge concrete wall mauka of Kahe-kili Highway, isolating neighborhood homes and blocking the stunning Ko'olau views.

That's also why, we suppose, they erected giant highway signs all over the new H-3 and the Likelike highways. Fortunately, unlike the concrete walls, which we're stuck with forever, residents howled loudly enough to have the signs downsized.

But now the same engineers have put up new signs, big enough to be sails on clipper ships, on Kahekili, next to the aforementioned concrete walls.

Outraged residents wonder why the department doesn't have enough money to take meaningful beautification measures next to the walls, but can splurge on these huge signs that no one seems to want.

Residents point out that the speed limit under the signs is only 35 mph; drivers should have no trouble scanning and digesting the messages: "Kailua" and "Honolulu-Pearl Harbor" from signs one-tenth the size.

Department officials say the signs are the result of their having listened to the preferences of residents. They also say they are built around federal specifications. Perhaps they listened, but they failed to hear.

The signs, soaring 40 feet high and spanning three lanes on mammoth steel structures, may be suitable for the Santa Monica Freeway, but not here.

What Hawai'i needs is a Transportation Department interested in building roads suitable for Hawai'i. One size does not fit all.