Raised crosswalks on Pali Highway causing problems for area residents

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Since they appeared on the Pali in 2020, raised crosswalk speed bumps have irritated drivers on the busy highway, jarred alignments and caused noise disturbances for nearby neighborhoods. There are now concerns that homes along the route are also being damaged.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) said these raised crosswalk speed bumps are effective safety tools, but homeowners and area lawmakers call them a nuisance that is not the best solution for pedestrian safety or speed control. Even the Federal Highway Administration does not recommend them in areas similar to Pali Highway.

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As traffic zooms on the Pali, some drivers slow down at raised crosswalks, also known as speed humps. However, many others charge through, and when the bigger vehicles pass, it shakes, rattles and rolls.

“A lot of people had complained because of the vibrational disturbance from them and the noise,” said resident Nalani Manwarring, a Pali resident whose home is directly next to one of the bumps. “We wake up maybe 10 times a night just from the vibrations and the noise.”

Within months after the bumps were installed in fall 2020, homeowners noticed something else.

“We noticed cracks in the kitchen floor, and when I went around the house, I started seeing cracks in the wall that we’ve never had issues with before,” Manwarring explained. “It sends a shockwave and goes up to our homes and our neighbors’ homes, too, and it’s destroying our homes.”

Each crack showed even her sturdy and enduring historic home — built on a solid rock foundation — may be no match for the speed bumps.

“The fact that they started complaining about it after the speed bumps going up says it probably is the speed bumps,” said State Sen. Karl Rhoads.

Manwarring said she and others have complained to the DOT for months, and they did come out to investigate.

The DOT said in a statement: “Vibration readings were well below the recommended vibration threshold for historical buildings, and the noise sampling did not measure sustained amplitudes in the 90-decibel range.” 

Manwarring has an issue with where the shake-test device was placed.

“They put it in our yard,” she said. “Not in our house or not at the point of impact.”

The fact that there are bumps on the Pali may be a head-scratcher for some. According to the Federal Highway Administration, raised crosswalks are for two or three-lane roads with speed limits of 30 mph or slower and 9,000 cars passing per day. Pali’s speed limit was lowered to 30 mph when the bumps went in, but the average daily traffic is 65,000 vehicles, and it is up to a six-lane highway.

DOT said: “The design of the raised crosswalks was appropriate for the corridors, and we piloted the use of this safety countermeasure on highways located next to schools and areas with previous pedestrian crashes.

“It’s still very dangerous with even with the speed bumps for pedestrians to cross a six-lane highway,” Rhoads explained. “And of course, all the people commuting from the windward side every day who don’t like having to slow down to 15-miles-an-hour to cross a speed bump when no one’s trying to cross.”

Area lawmakers have been pushing for a different solution.

“The legislature has put in money to put in pedestrian signalized crosswalks at four crossings up there,” Rhoads said. “The advantage of having a signalized crosswalk is of course traffic doesn’t have to stop unless there’s someone actually wanting to cross. I and four of my colleagues sent a letter to DOT Director Butay, and we have not heard a response.”

DOT told KHON2 they will be formally responding to the lawmakers and said the raised crosswalks are a more cost-effective option — at $50,000 to $100,000 each — compared to millions for signals.

Residents and lawmakers disagree with DOT and want to pursue their removal.

“Why not do this simplest, easiest thing rather than having residual effects of speed humps that are not doing their intended purpose and destroying our homes,” Manwarring said, adding that she will continue to pursue proving a connection between the crosswalks and the cracks.

The DOT said they will take up that issue directly with the Manwarrings.

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DOT said the most important thing is: “At the location of all raised pedestrian crosswalks, we have observed reductions in speeding, higher compliance to yielding for pedestrians, and most importantly, no pedestrian-involved crashes.”

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