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Umauma Bridge to Reopen to Two-Way Traffic Monday – Continued Alternating Lane Closures

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) alerts the public it will be reopening the Umauma Bridge on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 19) in the vicinity of Hakalau on Monday, April 24, 2017. One lane of traffic will be contraflowed over the bridge beginning at 9 a.m., weather permitting, and the bridge will be open to two-way traffic at 3 p.m. There will continue to be alternating lane closures at the bridge on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Dayton Kalai YouTube clip screenshot

The Umauma Bridge, which was built in 1911, underwent a full rehabilitation. The $31 million improvement project involved the reinforcement of the bridge’s deteriorating steel structure by building concrete towers within the existing steel towers. Other improvements included widening and replacement of the bridge deck, an asphalt concrete pavement overlay with 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders, and new concrete railings that comply with current federal pedestrian and bike safety regulations.

HDOT thanks the public for their patience and support during this project. Lane closure updates are posted weekly to our website at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/hawaii/.

Commentary – Mayor’s Administration Has Taken Action Against Me

Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless,  his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises.

The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.I was able to get  that  part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects.

In addition,  I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers,  or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that  have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments.

This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works  staff over the years. This is why I believe  this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hawaiian Airlines’ Airport Operations Lowering Fuel Use, Carbon Emissions

Carrier decreasing its reliance on jet fuel to power aircraft at the gate

Hawaiian Airlines this month achieved a key milestone in its ongoing effort to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions when it powered all wide-body aircraft arriving at airports in a single day with electrical power at the gate. The carrier’s initiative to connect parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity is significantly reducing pilots’ use of the onboard auxiliary power unit, or APU, which burns jet fuel to keep lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment on.

The work has the potential to reduce Hawaiian’s APU usage by an estimated 30 minutes per flight, saving some 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and cutting CO2 emissions by 5,933 metric tons. That’s roughly enough fuel to fly the airline’s wide-body fleet for a day, while the carbon reductions equate to removing 1,253 cars off the streets each year.

Hawaiian Airlines ground crews connect external power to a wide-body aircraft at Honolulu International Airport.

In the past year, Hawaiian made headway toward an ambitious goal of having gate power available to its entire wide-body fleet within three minutes of arrival as aircraft fly between Hawaii, 11 U.S. gateway cities and 10 international destinations. Line service and ground crews have met the target on 92 percent of flights on average. But on April 12, in what is internally being celebrated as “100 Percent Day,” employees reached a milestone when 47 wide-body flights received external power as aircraft arrived at airports from Auckland to New York.

“It’s very much like a carefully choreographed dance requiring great timing and the tight coordination of everyone involved in bringing our airplanes to the gate once they’ve landed,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our teams must ensure the availability of working external power at the gate, monitor minute-by-minute the estimated arrival time of the aircraft, and ensure all personnel are in place and ready to receive the aircraft.”

Hawaiian already provides external gate power to its narrow-body fleet that average 170 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands. The airline also owns portable power units that can be deployed in the event jetbridge electricity is unavailable or malfunctioning.

Hawaiian’s success in reducing APU usage aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

Hawaiian, which operates one of the youngest fleet in the U.S. industry, is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos starting later this year. Last year, the airline conducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE.

Most recently, Hawaiian became the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific monitoring project that enlists commercial airlines to research climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.

Island Air Honors Explorers Program Graduates

Island Air recently honored 25 students who graduated from its Explorers Program, a 10-week mentorship program that gives high school and college students an opportunity to learn about careers in the aviation industry.

“We are proud of these young men and women for their accomplishment and completion of the Explorers Program,” said David Uchiyama, president and CEO of Island Air. “This is the future generation of Hawai‘i’s aviation industry. We applaud their passion for airline careers and look forward to seeing them follow their dream and obtain local jobs.”

Explorers are offered an in-depth, hands-on overview of the airline industry, learning everything from how airplanes operate to customer relations management and corporate responsibility. The 10-week program provides information for airline related jobs such as pilots, flight attendants, ramp operators and aircraft mechanics, as well as visits and lectures from members of the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and Air Traffic Control.

In addition to mentorship, the Explorers Program graduates have the opportunity to receive the Jaime Wagatsuma Award, a $1,000 scholarship named in honor of the program advisor and pilot for both Island Air and Aloha Airlines who lost her battle with cancer in 2007. This year Island Air awarded two top achievers. The recipients are Mizuki Wiseman of Leeward Community College and Jordan Fines of Damien Memorial School.

The 25 graduates include:

  • Chad Alcantara-Rillamas – St. Louis High School
  • Phoebe Brandt – Castle High School
  • Carlos Bulan – James Campbell High School
  • Abigail Dang – Home School
  • Dylan Decker – Kalani High School
  • Caleb Dirks – Kaiser High School
  • Marcus Faufata-Pedrina – Damien Memorial School
  • Matthew Faufata-Pedrina – Damien Memorial School
  • Jordan Fines – Damien Memorial School
  • Kawelo Inciong – Kamehameha Schools
  • Kyo Johnson – Leilehua High School
  • Chance Kim – Roosevelt High School
  • Kristen Kop – Mid-Pacific Institute
  • Shane Kunimitsu – Kamehameha Schools
  • Elijah Lewis – Home School
  • Kealani Lui-Kwan – Castle High School
  • Kayla Malta – ‘Iolani School
  • Daylen Masaki – Moanalua High School
  • Cannan Nodine – Kaiser High School
  • Rovi Porter – Kalani High School
  • Wyatt Ross – Kaiser High School
  • Kaylin Urata – Hawaii Baptist Academy
  • Caden Warhawk – Home School
  • Mizuki Wiseman – Leeward Community College
  • Micah Yamamoto – Mid-Pacific Institute

Island Air’s Explorers Program is the only student workforce initiative in the aviation industry on O‘ahu. It became an official Explorer Post of the Boy Scouts of America when the program graduated its first class of students in April 2009. Since its founding, 161 students have completed the course. Many graduates have returned to Island Air for internships or full-time employment.

For more information, visit www.islandair.com/explorers-program.

Hokulea Received and Celebrated in Mahina

Legendary voyaging canoes Hokulea, Hikianalia and their crews were welcomed by the Mahina community yesterday. The crews enjoyed performances of traditional song and dance from people of all ages during the arrival celebration hosted on the shores of Mahina, which is near Papeete in Tahiti.

The arrival was filled with the true meaning of aloha. “You could feel it from the canoe. The community here was overwhelmingly happy and thrilled with love in their hearts that Hokulea and Hikianalia were there,” says Kala Tanaka, captain and navigator of Hikianalia. Adorned with welcome wishes and lei, the crews were treated to a front row celebration of traditional song and dance.

The arrival in Tahiti marks the reconnection of Hokulea and Hikianalia. The sister canoes were last together in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the spring of 2015. “We started his voyage together and now we end this voyage together,” says Bruce Blankenfeld, master navigator of Hokulea.

The crew will travel throughout Tahiti and Raiatea to engage with the local communities in ceremony and educational outreach as they celebrate the close of the nearly four-year long journey. Together with her sister canoe Hikianalia, Hokulea will head home to a welcoming ceremony at Magic Island in June 2017.

Navy Suspends Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) on Ships, Subs, Aircraft

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) released a joint message April 14, that suspends the use, possession, storage and charging of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.


NORFOLK (April 11, 2017) The use, possession, storage, and charging of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and all associated ENDS components is temporarily prohibited aboard Fleet Forces and Pacific Fleet ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy machinery pending completion of further analysis. The temporary prohibition is effective May 14, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary A. Prill/Released)

The prohibition applies to Sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units.

The Fleet commanders implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of Sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment.

The prohibition will be effective 30 days from the release of the policy May 14, and will remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.

This new policy is in response to continued reports of explosions of ENDS due to the overheating of lithium-ion batteries. Multiple Sailors have suffered serious injuries from these devices, to include first- and second-degree burns and facial disfigurement. In these cases, injuries resulted from battery explosions during ENDS use, charging, replacement or inadvertent contact with a metal object while transporting.

Deployed units may request extensions on device removal until their next port visit. Supervisors should ensure that removable lithium-ion batteries are removed from the units and stored according to the ENDS manufacturer instructions, in plastic wrap, in a plastic bag or any other non-conductive storage container.

Sailors on shore will still be allowed to use ENDS on base, but must do so in designated smoking areas ashore while on military installations.

Sailors are encouraged to use available tobacco cessation resources and programs offered through Navy medical services and Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP) programs.

Coast Guard Cutter Galvelston Island Returns Home from Patrol Off Main Hawaiian Islands

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) returned home to Honolulu, Monday, after a five-day patrol throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands.

The crew conducted eight total boardings, issued 23 notices of violation and 22 safety violations.

The Galveston Island’s boarding team also terminated the voyage of the fishing vessel Lady Anne Margaret after a non-U.S. citizen was found to be serving as master of the U.S. documented vessel.

“Although our patrol was short, it was very successful and directly supports our mission under the Ocean Guardian Strategy to protect the nation’s living marine resources, ensure fish for the future and economic stability by employing the right tools in the right place at the right time,” said Lt. Ryan Ball, commanding officer, Galveston Island. “Our goal is to ensure the overall safety of the Hawaii-based commercial fishing fleet, provide presence and enforce the fishing laws and regulations within our Exclusive Economic Zone, which ultimately safeguards fish stock sustainability.”

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB-1329), homeported in Honolulu, conduct a boarding of a fishing vessel off of the Main Hawaiian Islands during a patrol, April 7, 2017. While on patrol with a Samoan shiprider, the crew conducted eight total boardings, issued 23 notices of violation and 22 safety violations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Galveston Island’s crew also embarked a Samoan shiprider, who served as an observer during six of the eight boardings. Coast Guard teams and Pacific Island Nation shipriders routinely conduct professional exchanges and joint boardings within the U.S. and Pacific Island Nation’s EEZs to protect the ocean and the living marine resources.

The Coast Guard’s priorities under the Ocean Guardian Strategy are to: protect the U.S. EEZ from foreign encroachment, enforce domestic living marine resource laws, and ensure compliance with international agreements. The U.S. EEZ is the second largest in the world, comprising 4.38 million sq. miles of ocean.

On the commercial fishing vessel safety front, mandatory dockside safety exams must be completed for all commercial fishing vessels that operate beyond 3 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline. These exams are free and any discrepancies found at the dock may not result in fines. Fishing vessels that are required to carry National Marine Fisheries Service observers are required to have a valid decal (not expired). Mariners interested in scheduling commercial fishing vessel safety exams may contact Charlie Medlicott at 808-535-3417 or Charles.J.Medlicott@uscg.mil.

The independent state of Samoa is a self governing island country about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It comprises two main islands and eight small islets whose total land area is 1,097 sq. miles. Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone, however, covers only 46,332 sq. miles of ocean as it does not extend a full 200 nautical miles in any direction and borders the U.S. EEZ via American Samoa. The professional exchange was conducted to strengthen partnerships and examine both nations’ approach to fisheries enforcement and safety requirements aboard vessels operating in the Pacific.

The Galveston Island is a 110-foot Island class patrol boat homeported in Honolulu. The cutter is a multi-mission platform with a primary operation area in the main Hawaiian Islands that completes several such patrols annually.

Man Tries to Fool Cops on April Fool’s Day – Fakes Kidnapping

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section arrested 21-year-old Dwain Lum-Young of Waikoloa this morning (April 13) after investigation revealed that a previously reported kidnapping incident was fabricated.

Dwain Lum-Young

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Lum-Young reported that on the previous evening while on Mauna Kea Beach Drive, he picked up a male hitchhiker who assaulted him and attempted to force him to drive to Waimea. During this same incident, Lum-Young reported his vehicle was involved in an accident with another vehicle and he left the accident scene due to the alleged kidnapper’s actions.

As Area II Criminal Investigation Section detectives continued their efforts to develop leads in the kidnappin g investigation, they determined the reported kidnapping and assault incidents did not happen.

Detectives arrested and charged Lum-Young at 9:10 a.m. today for false reporting to law enforcement authorities, accident involving damage to vehicle, and duty to give information and render aid. He was released from police custody after posting bail of $1,500 and will appear in court at a later date.

Police ask anyone who may have information about this investigation to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Carrie Akina at (808)326-4646, ext. 277 or via email at Carrie.Akina@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hokulea and Hikianalia Arrive in Tahiti

Legendary Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia have arrived in Tahiti.

This arrival marks the first time the sister canoes have reunited since the vessels embarked on separate Malama Honua sail plans in spring of 2015 – when Hikianalia sailed for the Hawaiian Islands to advance the education mission of the Worldwide Voyage while Hokulea continued on her unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe. The canoes’ arrival will be celebrated with the Tahiti community tomorrow, April 14, 2017.

Tahiti holds special historical significance for the Polynesian Voyaging Society as the destination of Hokulea’s first deep sea voyage in 1976, over 40 years ago. Tahiti is the largest island of French Polynesia and shares origins with the rest of the Polynesian Triangle. The mountain, Moua Orohena, tops the island and stands 7,352 feet tall, earning the distinction as the highest point in French Polynesia; its height has made Tahiti the home base of voyaging for generations.

Sister canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia will travel to Raiatea for a ceremony in Taputapuatea on April 25. Hokulea and Hikianalia will sail home in early May to begin the final deep-sea leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

Hawaii House Approves $1.2 Billion Package to Fund City Rail Project

The House of Representatives today agreed to provide an additional $1.2 billion funding package for the City’s financially troubled rail project estimated to cost a total of about $8.1 billion.

In passing SB1183 SD2 HD2, the House extended Oahu’s 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge for the City’s rail project for an additional two years through 2029 which will generate an estimated $792 million.

The House also agreed to reduce the funds it collects as a GET administrative fee by 90 percent which will generate an estimated $397 million for the City project.

When adding this new funding of $1.2 billion to the $6.8 billion already committed to the project, the State is providing $8 billion for the City rail project.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), Chair of the Finance Committee, said the additional rail funding provided in the bill brings the City very close to its total estimated cost for the entire project.

“This bill is an honest attempt to once again provide sufficient funds for the city’s over-priced, over-budget rail project,” Luke said. “There are many more questions about the rising cost estimates that remain unanswered.”

(For the full text of Rep. Luke’s speech today, click here.)

“This was a reasoned approach and I would hope that reason would prevail at the city. It is incumbent upon the Mayor, the city, and HART to use this opportunity to take control of the cost and its budgets, and look at all viable options. Threatening the public with a property tax increase is doing a disservice to our citizens. The city must first do whatever they can to instill confidence and trust in this project. I am certain given the opportunity they will do that.”

As part of the bill, the Honolulu City Council must vote to allow city funds to be used for rail and approve the GET extension by Dec. 31, 2017 or void the additional State support.

In an impassioned speech, Speaker Joseph Souki (D, Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu), said building rail is the largest public works project in Hawaii’s history and will provide jobs and a new mode of transportation for commuters.

“This is for the future. The burden now goes to the City. They need to have ‘skin in the game.’ Hopefully, the (City) Council will get the courage to pass it.  I’m asking all of you to support this bill,” Souki said.

Luke said the State must be very mindful of how it spends taxpayer money, and that  lawmakers and the public have lost faith in the credibility of cost estimates by the City and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation administrators.

After providing almost all the funds needed for the project, the State cannot write a “blank check” for more taxes going into the future just in case rail goes over budget again, she said.

Luke said the City should look at cost savings either through r public private partnerships, finding creative ways of securing bond financing, or aggressively looking at their contracts and making cuts to cover the final $100 million of the total cost.

Luke said this $1.2 billion package provides the City with funds to complete the rail project through Ala Moana and will not jeopardize the $1.55 billion in Federal Transit Administration funding.

SB1183 SD2 HD2’s provisions include:

  • Extending the general excise tax surcharge for two additional years, from December 31, 2027 through December 31, 2029, which will generate an estimated $792 million;
  • Redistributing 90 percent of the State Department of Taxation administrative fee to the City, which will generate an estimated $397 million;
  • Requiring the City to approve the extension on or before December 31, 2017;
  • Mandating that the City not prohibit the use of city funds for rail expenses;
  • Prohibiting the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating and personnel expenses;
  • Stating that GET funds can only be used for construction;
  • Giving all counties the option to extend the surcharge.

In addition, the House also moved the following bills on Second Crossover:

Veterans

SB 602 HD1 repeals the requirement that a disabled veteran be in receipt of disability retirement pay from the armed forces to be exempt from the payment of annual vehicle registration fees.

Climate Change

SB 559 SD1 HD2 requires the State to expand strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement.

Affordable Housing

SB 1244 SD2 HD2 authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable units developed with government assistance when a government entity waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit.

Internet Privacy

SB 429 SD2 HD2 adopts uniform laws on protecting the online accounts of employees, unpaid interns, applicants, students, and prospective students from employers and educational institutions, respectively.

Condominium Law

SB 369 SD1 HD1 prohibits apartment and condominium associations, boards of directors, managing agents, resident managers, and apartment and condominium owners from retaliating or discriminating against an owner, board member, or association employee who takes lawful action to address, prevent, or stop a violation of Hawaii’s condominium laws or a condominium’s governing documents, or exercises any rights as an owner.

Prison

SB 603 SD1 HD2 requires report to Legislature on solitary confinement in Hawaii and Arizona correctional facilities that house Hawaii inmates. It also requires the Department of Public Safety to expand the environmental impact statement process for potential sites for the Oahu Community Correctional Center relocation and submit a report to Legislature.

Taxation

SB 620 SD2 HD2 requires retailers or vendors that are not located in the State and not required to pay or collect general excise or use tax for sales to send certain information to purchasers in the State.

SB 686 SD2 HD1 establishes education surcharges on residential investment properties and visitor accommodations for funding public education.

SB 704 SD2 HD2 allows transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services for vacation rentals.

Homelessness

SB 717 SD2 HD2 makes appropriations and establishes a temporary program to clean up state real property after the departure of persons who have illegally camped or lodged on state real property.

SB 1290 SD2 HD2 allocates funds from transient accommodations tax revenues to the Hawaii Tourism Authority in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association for the implementation of initiatives to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas.

Pregnancy Centers

SB 501 SD1 HD2 requires all limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services and establishes privacy and disclosure requirements for individual records and information.

In Vitro Fertilization

SB 502 SD1 HD1 removes discriminatory requirements for mandatory insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization procedures to create parity of coverage for same-sex couples, unmarried women, and male-female couples for whom male infertility is the relevant factor.

Retirement

SB 249 SD2 HD1 reduces the percentage of average final compensation used to calculate the retirement allowance for a member who first earned credited service as a judge after June 30, 2050, to 2 per cent.

Maui Hospitals

SB 207 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Budget and Finance for collective bargaining cost items related to the transition of affected Maui region hospital employees to employment with Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC.

Lifeguard Protection

SB 562 SD1 HD1 requires the Attorney General to defend any civil action against the county based on negligence, wrongful act, or omission of a county lifeguard for services at a designated state beach park under an agreement between the State and a county.

A complete list of Senate bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

The Reason Right Hand Turn Lane Was Removed From Kilauea Street

Some time in the last few weeks, the County of Hawaii Department of Public Works decided to remove the right hand turn lane at the south end of Kilauea Street where folks use to be able to turn on to Haihai Street.

A few folks have sent me emails asking me to inquire about things and finally I put it out there the other night that I would be inquiring about this change in traffic pattern.

Former Kona Blogger Aaron Stene saw what I posted and was able to inquire with the County of Hawaii Department of Public Works as to why this change happened and he sent me the conversation between two folks in the county who knew what happened and WHY it happened.

Some time ago we got a request from then Councilman, Dennis Onishi.  The request was for a convex mirror for the Kilauea Ave/Haihai St. intersection because people had a hard time seeing turning out onto Kilauea Ave from Haihai St.

After investigating the intersection we concluded that a mirror would be ineffective at improving sight distance, particularly at the higher speeds that cars commonly drive in this area.  The problem we identified was that cars in the right turn lane restricted line of sight.  We proposed to Dennis the idea of terminating the right turn lane and merging traffic into one lane.  Our thinking was that not having the right turn lane would allow turning vehicles to have better visibility of oncoming traffic and turning vehicles would actually be able to pull out a little more to make turns.  Dennis supported our plan so we proceeded to make the change.

The one concern that I have is that driver habits in this area hamper the flow of traffic at this intersection.  Although the yield is for Hilo bound traffic, cars still tend to yield on the Puna bound side.  When this occurs, the Puna bound backup increases because the lane now consists of both right turning vehicles and through vehicles.

Our treatment is not the perfect solution, but the positive impacts of the change should be appreciated by those making turns from Haihai St, as opposed to those on Kilauea Ave.  I heard there are plans to widen the “4 Mile” bridge in a few years.  I think converting the bridge to a two-lane bridge will greatly improve traffic flow in this area.  Speeds will probably go up, but the congestion will be reduced significantly.  The other improvement that may not be possible due to lack of space is a left turn lane on Kilauea Ave for the Haihai St intersection.  Another cause for congestion is people making left turns.

Aaron Takaba

 

University of Hawaii Gets New 45-Foot Education and Training Vessel for Island Students

Tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017, students from Ahuimanu Elementary will board the new 45-foot education and research vessel, Ka Noelo Kai (“seeking knowledge from the sea”), as part of its inaugural week of operations to support place-based experiential learning at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Leaving from He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor, students will deploy a plankton net, collect data, and watch for green sea turtles and other marine life on their transit to HIMB on Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island).

Ka Noelo Kai in Kaneohe Bay, photo credit F. King/HIMB.

HIMB is an internationally recognized research and education facility, situated within Kāne‘ohe Bay and surrounded by 25 acres of protected coral reef refuge designated for scientific research. While on island, the Ahuimanu students will examine plankton through microscopes, participate in an invasive seaweed lab, and tour the research facilities with stops at the lab’s touch pool and shark enclosures. They will leave with new science and stewardship skills to assist them as they become our next generation of scientists, marine managers and ocean stewards, helping to find creative solutions to Hawai‘i’s environmental issues and challenges.

UH scientists and educators Dr. Malia Rivera and Mark Heckman have been growing programs at HIMB to provide pathways to science for Hawai‘i’s underserved elementary through high school student populations for the last nine years. Currently over 4,000 students and teachers attend programs and labs on the island annually. Many students visit the research facility from as young as 5 years of age via the community and family tours. They may come back next with their elementary school or middle school classes, then as high school students in HIMB’s more science intensive programs before entering the University of Hawai‘i as undergraduates.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology/SOEST/ UH Manoa, photo credit Doug Peebles.

Ultimately a local student who visited as a child may return to gain a graduate degree and become an internationally recognized scientist or natural resource manager.

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation generously provided funds to purchase the vessel, enabling more school groups and students to access the island’s facilities, gain training and delve into the mysteries of Kāne‘ohe Bay’s and Hawai‘i’s beautiful but threatened coral reef ecosystems and ocean waters.

The Ahuimanu Elementary’s fourth grade field trip to HIMB will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.  Student will gather at He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor located at 46-499 Kamehameha Highway in Kāne‘ohe.  Media are welcome.  For more information, contact Mark Heckman at mheckman@hawaii.edu or (808) 277-1691.

Hawaii House Finance Committee Approves $1.2 Billion Package to Fund Rail Project

The House Finance Committee today agreed to provide an additional $1.2 billion funding package for the City’s financially troubled rail project estimated to cost a total of about $8.1 billion.

In passing SB1183 SD2 HD2, the committee amended the bill to:

  • Extend the general excise tax surcharge for two additional years, from December 31, 2027 through December 31, 2029, which will generate an estimated $792 million;
  • Redistribute 90 percent of the State Department of Taxation administrative fee to the City, which will generate an estimated $397 million;
  • Require the City to approve the extension on or before December 31, 2017;
  • Mandate that the City not prohibit the use of city funds for rail expenses;
  • Prohibit the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating and personnel expenses;
  • State that GET funds can only be used for construction;
  • Give all counties the option to extend the surcharge.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Pauoa-­Punchbowl-Nuuanu), Chair of the Finance Committee, said the $1.2 billion package will fund the rail project through Ala Moana and will not jeopardize the $1.55 billion in federal funding.

“This is the second time the State has bailed out the City and County of Honolulu and HART for the rail project. The public and the Legislature has lost faith and confidence in their ability to provide an accurate budget estimate and control costs,” Luke said.

“We are concerned with the City and HART being in breach of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This is why we are providing the City and HART with an additional $1.2 billion funding package. The State is even willing to substantially reduce its administrative fee to ensure that this project is completed.

“However, we continue to be disappointed that the City and HART have not considered significant cost cutting measures and alternatives to funding. We believe the funding we are providing today will be sufficient as long as the City and HART do their part to responsibly finance and manage their rail project.”

The bill will now be voted on by the entire House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Gabbard, Hanabusa, Young Introduce Bill to Exempt Hawaii, Alaska from Travel Fee Increases

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), and Don Young (AK-AL) introduced bipartisan legislation today to exempt Hawaiʻi, Alaska, and communities that rely on essential air service as subsidized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, from increases in TSA air travel fees. The Passenger Fee Restructuring Exemptions Act (H.R.1782) recognizes the unique reliance on air travel that residents of Hawaiʻi and Alaska face by lowering the states’ TSA fee to $2.50 for interstate direct flights. Congress raised the national TSA fee to $5.60 in late 2013, and could increase the fee to $6.60 in FY2018.

  “The doubling of the TSA fee since 2013 has had a disproportionate, negative impact on Hawaiʻi residents and businesses who rely on air travel as the only available mode of transportation for everyday necessities like commerce, healthcare, education, and more. As Congress considers raising the TSA fee again, our bipartisan legislation will help relieve this cost burden by exempting Hawaiʻi and Alaska, and other communities who rely solely on essential air service, from this tax,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“Hawaiʻi and Alaska share unique geographic challenges that make our dependence on air travel a necessity.  As such, any increase in TSA fees disproportionately hurts our residents, tourists and businesses alike. This bill redresses that wrong by exempting Hawaiʻi and Alaska from the disparate impact of these fee increases,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“Simply put, current aviation security fees disproportionately affect the residents of my state due to our unique reliance on air travel. I have opposed fee hikes in the past and have consistently worked with my Hawaiian colleagues to alleviate the hardships placed on those without transportation alternatives. This bipartisan legislation will address this inequity and allow our residents, who depend on air travel, to access and grow their economies without being overburdened by the growth of government fees,” said Rep. Don Young.

TODAY – Meeting Regarding Commercial Air Tour Noise Issues in East Hawaii

A meeting regarding commercial air tour noise issues in East Hawaii is being held today, Thursday, March 30, 2017, 1:00 – 3:30 pm at the Hilo Airport Conference Room 216 (above Blue Hawaiian offices, main terminal).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) work together to address noise associated with air tours operations over national parks, including Haleakala National Park and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Recently, concerns have been raised about noise from helicopter operations in Hawai’i outside of park boundaries, particularly on the Big Island. FAA and NPS are visiting Hawai’i to better identify specific concerns with helicopter operations within and outside of national parks.

These meetings are an informal opportunity to share information and perspectives on helicopter operations, including safety, economic and noise impacts. Please note that these are not public hearings and are not associated with previous planning exercises for air tour management plans at national parks.

Following a welcome and introductions by FAA & NPS and comments from representatives of the Hawaii congressional delegation, state and local governments, other participants will be invited to share their concerns and views with the federal agencies.

We ask that all participants afford one another respect and the opportunity to be heard without interruption or debate. In order to make sure that each interested attendee has an opportunity to be heard, we may need to establish a designated time allotment that will be determined based on the number of participants in attendance.

While the agencies may have follow up questions for stakeholders regarding their specific comments or concerns, the main purpose of the meetings is to allow the agencies to listen to the views of different stakeholders.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

“Behind every distracted driving death is a story of loss. In the blink of an eye, lives can be transformed forever,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Scrolling through song lists on a cell phone, or texting while driving is not just irresponsible, it can have tragic consequences. We’re calling on drivers to put down their devices and help keep the roadways safe.”

During April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), along with the county police departments, and traffic safety partners, Toyota Hawaii and DTRIC Insurance, will be working together to educate Hawaii about the dangers of distracted driving.

Presentations will be held at Drive Aloha Fairs statewide to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving with the use of a state-of-the-art digital driving simulator system that allows drivers of all ages to experience how dangerous it is to operate a vehicle while being distracted. The digital simulator system is the only one of its kind in Hawaii.

“Distracted driving is a completely preventable cause of death or injury on our roadways. We believe education can be as important as enforcement in addressing this problem, which is why we are pleased to have our traffic safety partners and law enforcement agencies working with us,” Fuchigami added. “The collective goal of this campaign is to change driver behavior. We hope that once people see the statistics, they will evaluate and alter their driving habits to help protect themselves and others on the road.”

According to NHTSA, at any given daylight moment across the country, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. Nationally, in 2014 alone, motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers claimed 3,179 lives and injured 431,000 people. Additional research shows that 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash.

There are three types of distracted driving: (1) Visual, taking your eyes off the road; (2) Manual, taking your hands off the wheel; and (3) Cognitive, taking your mind off driving. Operating a cell phone while driving involves all three types of distracted driving.

Hawaii’s law prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, making it illegal for drivers to text or engage in other hand-held uses of mobile electronic devices such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants and navigation devices. The law also prohibits drivers from using a hand-held mobile electronic device when stopped at a red light or stop sign. Furthermore, no person under the age of 18 may use a hands-free mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. The fine for violating this law starts at $257. Violations in school zones or construction areas are subject to a higher amount.

Although distracted driving related incidents tend to be underreported locally, last year police issued over 20,000 distracted driving citations statewide. Increased enforcement of distracted driving laws combined with public education have proven to be an effective method to reduce distracted driving and save lives.

In partnership with Toyota Hawaii and DTRIC Insurance, the distracted driving presentations will be held at the following Drive Aloha Fairs, which are free and open to the public:

  • Thursday, March 30, 2017 – Tamarind Square, Honolulu 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 1, 2017 – Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 Puainako Street, Hilo 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 8 & 9, 2017 – Kukui Grove Center 3-2600 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Kamehameha Shopping Center 1620 North School Street, Honolulu 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 22 & 23, 2017 – Queen Kaahumanu Center 275 West Kaahumanu Avenue, Kahului 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday April 29, 2017 – Pearlridge Center 98-1005 Moanalua Road, Aiea 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More information about the dangers of distracted driving can be found at www.distraction.gov

20-Year-Old Woman Dies Following Two-Vehicle Crash on Highway 270

A 20-year-old Paʻauilo woman died following a two-vehicle crash Monday night (March 27) on Highway 270 just South of the 13 mile marker.

Makaylyn Kalani

She was identified as Makaylyn Kalani.

Responding to a 8:40 p.m. call Monday evening, police determined that a 2008 Honda four-door sedan operated by Kalani had been traveling North on Highway 270 near the 13 mile marker when it crossed left of center of the roadway and collided head on with a 2009 Toyota pickup truck that was traveling south.

The occupants of the Toyota, a 24-year-old man and a 19-year-old women, both of Kohala, were taken to the North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Kalani was taken to the Kona Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. Tuesday (March 28).

Police believe speed and inattention were factors in the crash.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.

This is the 7th traffic fatality this year compared to five at this time last year.

Nainoa Thompson Receives Explorers Club Medal, the Most Prestigious Recognition in Exploration

Navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Nainoa Thompson was honored this evening with the 2017 Explorers Club Medal, the most prestigious recognition in exploration. The award was presented to Thompson at the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at Ellis Island in New York City.  The medal is awarded annually to select individuals for their extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity.

2017 Explorers Club Medal winner Nainoa Thompson with ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle.

Thompson was recognized for his historic work to revive and perpetuate Polynesian wayfinding and for leading the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage as captain and navigator of iconic sailing canoe Hokulea. Thompson has dedicated his life to teaching the art and values of wayfinding to generations of navigators throughout Polynesia and from across the globe. He was the first Native Hawaiian to practice long-distance wayfinding since the 14th century and consequently inspired a voyaging renaissance throughout the Pacific.

Today, Hokulea is completing the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a journey to inspire communities to care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments for a more sustainable future. To date, Hokulea has sailed over 31,000 nautical miles around the world.

Hokulea is currently on her way to the Marquesas Islands. The canoe’s last stop will be in Tahiti where she will meet up with her sister canoe, Hikianalia and sail back to Hawaii together on the final leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

The Explorers Club also honored Hokulea at a special Presidential Dinner in June 2016 on World Oceans Day.

In addition to Thompson, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, M.D. received the Explorers Club Medal for Solar Impulse, a solar powered airplane circumnavigation project that has raised public awareness and encouraged political actions in favor of clean technologies and energy efficiency around the world. The event was hosted by two-time Academy Award winning actor, Robert DeNiro, who introduced a congratulatory video from past Explorers Club Medal recipient, award-winning filmmaker, and fellow Ocean Elder, James Cameron. Cameron’s video discussed the importance of education, conservation, and oceans exploration, lauding the night’s awardees for their landmark endeavors and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 1904 in New York City, The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Club serves as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide, promoting the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. An illustrious series of first explorations are credited to members of the Club, including the first visit to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean and first to the surface of the moon.

The Explorers Club Medal is the Club’s highest honor. Past recipients of the Explorers Club Medal include James Cameron, for his outstanding contributions to ocean science; Walter H. Munk, for his extraordinary oceanography achievements that span his 75-year career; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., for his significant contributions to the welfare of humanity through science and education.

For information on the Explorers Club Awards and other 2017 recipients, please click here.

Oahu Highway and Road Closures Beginning Sunday, March 26, for a Television Production

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises Oahu motorists of closures on multiple roadways next week for a television production. See closure details below.

H-3 Freeway Sunday, March, 26, and Monday, March 27, from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

  • Closure of the H-3 Freeway in the Kaneohe-bound between the Halawa Interchange and the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base.
  • All onramps from the Halawa Interchange to the H-3 Freeway will be closed, including the Kamehameha Highway onramp in Kaneohe.
  • Alternate routes include the Likelike Highway and Pali Highway.

Kualakai Parkway – Tuesday, March 28, southbound from 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and northbound from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Closure of Kualakai Parkway in the southbound direction between Farrington Highway and Kapolei Parkway.
  • Closure of Kualakai Parkway in the northbound direction between Farrington Highway and the H-1 Freeway Overpass, including the Kualakai Parkway onramp to the eastbound H-1 Freeway. Motorists may enter the eastbound H-1 Freeway at the Makakilo Drive onramp or the Fort Weaver Road onramp.

H-1 Freeway – Tuesday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Intermittent closures on the H-1 Freeway in the eastbound direction in the vicinity of the Kapolei/Ewa offramp (Exit 3). Special Duty Police Officers will hold traffic for approximately 1-2 minutes at a time and then will reopen all lanes. The lanes will remain open for the majority of the time during the closure hours.

Electronic message boards are posted to warn motorists of the closures. Emergency vehicles and first responders will be allowed through the closure zones.

HDOT encourages the public to plan their commute and check traffic apps to avoid congestion. Lane closures will be posted on our website at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/oahu/  and released through our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

It will be visible beginning tonight, Friday, March 24 at 7:57 PM. It will be visible for approximately 4 minutes at a maximum height of 44 degrees. It will appear 10 degrees above the West Southwest part of the sky and disappear 37 degrees above the North Northeast part of the sky.