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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2003

Temporary roundabout set up in Salt Lake

 •  Graphic: Roundabout in Salt Lake

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Starting today, Salt Lake drivers will have to negotiate a new obstacle as the city installs a temporary roundabout at the intersection of Ala Napunani and Likini streets.

Workers will set up cones and begin painting temporary lane markings at about 9:30 a.m., reducing the busy Ala Napunani from two lanes in each direction to one circle lane, slowing cars in the 25 mph zone and making it safer for pedestrians to cross, said Cheryl Soon, Department of Transportation Services director.

"It is an area that has been experiencing excessive speeds — exceeding 40 mph," Soon said. "It is a nice wide street so it sets off the impression, 'OK, go, gun it.' It's very difficult for pedestrians to walk across."

The temporary traffic-calming measure will cost between $50,000 and $60,000 and be set up for three months, Soon said. The effectiveness of the roundabout will be assessed by reviewing traffic counts, speed records and public comments before a decision on whether to make the changes permanent, revise the roundabout or remove it.

Soon said crews will drive city trucks and a bus through the circle to make sure the turning radius is sufficient. Within a week the contractor will have completed installing the roundabout fixtures including bulbouts at Likini Street, radius reducing curbs at Ala Ilima Street and a new raised median that will reduce the crossing distance from 64 feet to less than 32 feet before reaching a safe spot to wait.

"It allows pedestrians to stop in the middle and wait and cross the rest of the way," Soon said. "In today's condition no one would want to get stuck in the middle."

Grant Tanimoto, chairman of the Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village Neighborhood Board, said Ala Napunani is one of the main roads in Salt Lake and residents have been concerned about Moanalua High School students having to cross four lanes of speeding traffic with no traffic light to reach campus.

Others expressed concern that the roundabout would slow traffic too much so the board asked for the roundabout to be temporary.

"It's a big wide street," Tanimoto said. "The way to slow down traffic on Ala Napunani Street and provide a better flow, at least in theory, is supposed to be this roundabout. Then after thinking about it for a while some of the community, including the neighborhood board, started getting cold feet about the whole thing. Is a roundabout at this intersection really going to work?"

Moanalua High School principal Darrel Galera said some type of traffic calming for Ala Napunani has been talked about for more than 20 years.

"I support any effort that will help to increase safety for students and pedestrians in our community," Galera said. "Like everyone else, we will be looking closely to see how effective it is."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.

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