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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, April 13, 2002

Traffic Cameras
Freeway speeds may increase

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Speed limits on certain state highways such as the H-3 Freeway may be increased by this summer, Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday.

Two days after canceling the controversial traffic camera program, Cayetano said the state Department of Transportation is reviewing speed limits and will make recommendations on where they can be changed. Certain stretches of the H-3 and the H-1 freeways could be increased by at least 5 mph, he said.

"The H-3 probably could be, in certain places, 65 miles an hour," he said. "I told my people maybe we'll go in increments. Maybe we'll go up from 55 to 60 for H-3. So they're looking at that right now. ... H-3 is good because there are very few interruptions, so I think we're going to increase the speed there."

The speed limits in some areas of the H-1 Freeway, such as a stretch in Leeward O'ahu, could also be increased by 5 mph, he said.

On the other hand, he said some areas, such as the stretch of freeway near the University Avenue off-ramp, could be made safer with a slower speed limit, he said.

Roy Yanagihara, chairman of the Kane'ohe Neighborhood Board, said he believes speed limits on the H-3 Freeway and Likelike Highway should be raised. He said he doesn't observe the 55 mph speed limit on the H-3 and it's his understanding that the H-3 and the Likelike have a low incidence of speed-related accidents.

"It would seem that raising the speed limit up to a realistic amount where most people drive would be the thing to do," he said. "... Realistically nobody travels those speeds on those highways."

Cayetano also reflected on the problems that plagued the photo enforcement program, which he pulled off the roads on Wednesday after the Legislature voted Tuesday to repeal the law.

Cayetano yesterday said the state could have done a better job of explaining the program at the outset to citizens, and reiterated his criticism of state judges who declared a 9 mph grace threshold in dismissing camera-generated tickets. The judges had said they were applying an unstated standard that police have long used to issue speeding tickets.

Cayetano also criticized legislators for repealing the program that they had established a few years earlier. He said the Department of Transportation continued to operate the traffic camera program even after it ran into some legal glitches because state officials thought the Legislature would fix the law.

"If anyone should be fired, it's the members of the Legislature who voted for this law overwhelmingly without discussion, without debate, a couple years ago and as soon as things got hot began to bail out," Cayetano said. "The people in 2002 have the right to fire people and as far as I'm concerned, I think when you consider the legislators' performance in the overall scheme of things, this is one that the people should take into account."

Lawmakers have said the program had too many problems to be salvaged.

"The traffic cam issue has been talked about, debated and after all of the debate and after all that we have found, there's no doubt in my mind that the project has a lot of problems associated with it," said Senate President Robert Bunda,

D-22nd (Wahiawa, Waialua, Sunset Beach). "Let us repeal it and let us try to find something that can take its place if we could. ... If we can't, then so be it."

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8070.