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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just fix the lights already

The recession has ushered in a dark period, but who knew it would be quite this dark?

The state Department of Transportation has decided to let long stretches of the H-1 and H-2 freeway corridors in Central and Leeward O'ahu go unlit at night until $3 million can be found to fix the lights vandalized by copper thieves.

What is this, Bolivia?

The ringleader of the gang that was stripping the lights is now in jail, and officials had pledged to replace the lights once the bad guys were caught.

They need to fulfill that promise as soon as possible.

The word from the department is that officials are scouting about for federal dollars. If the feds have grant money lying around, fine, but it's ultimately the state's responsibility to get this problem fixed.

Officials say the 15.3 affected miles qualify as "rural" freeways for which lighting isn't required. It's appalling that they would trot that out as an excuse. Anyone who's had car trouble on these "country roads" at night can tell them otherwise.

With a $240 million operating budget and a commitment to core services like public safety, the highways division should be able to move around some projects to get the lights fixed. It will be cheaper than settling the inevitable civil lawsuit after a midnight car wreck.