Be careful while crossing

LIHUE — Lynn Kitiona enjoys working in Lihue but says crossing Kuhio Highway on foot can be hazardous.

And she’s not talking about jaywalking.

Even using the designated crosswalk at the Kali Street intersection to get to her job at Easy Cash Solutions can seem a little dangerous.

“I wish they had the little pole thing you could press and the light shines when they’re crossing,” said Kitiona of the crosswalk between the 76 Gas Station and 7-Eleven. “There’s no traffic light by it. I don’t think a crosswalk should be placed there.”

The relatively new walkway was painted across the busy highway in June in conjunction with a $2.5 million project to restore the deteriorated pavement along Kuhio Highway between Rice Street and Laukini Road.

The crosswalk is marked by white paint. The speed limit is 25 mph but traffic sometimes moves quicker than that and pedestrians can be seen standing at the crosswalks’ edge waiting for cars to slow down. There isn’t a traffic signal or blinking lights. The crosswalk, one driver said, can be hard to spot.

Omao resident Joy Zepeda, who drives on Kuhio Highway often, said the crosswalk needs to be made more visible to pedestrians and drivers.

It’s not uncommon for drivers in one of the outside lanes to pass through the crosswalk without stopping even while a pedestrian is using it.

“The drivers need to know a little bit in advance that there’s a crosswalk there,” Zepeda said. “I hardly ever notice it. For the safety of pedestrians, it would be great if they had standing signs indicating where the crosswalk is.”

The crosswalk’s location was part of the 2010 Lihue Town Urban Core Design, which recommended the addition of several crosswalks across Kuhio Highway, Kauai County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said. But as far as possible improvements, the crosswalk falls under state Department of Transportation jurisdiction. The DOT didn’t return messages to specify whether any additions or improvements were in the plans.

Others said they don’t believe the crosswalk is a problem. There haven’t been any reports of accidents at the crosswalk.

“I don’t think it’s in the way. I think it’s a good spot for a crosswalk,” said Kapaa resident Jeremy Henshaw, a pedestrian near the walkway recently. “I think they should mark it a little better with the signs, but other than that, every time I’ve used it, people have stopped for me.”

Sometimes the easiest way is just to marry crosswalks and traffic signals together, said Loke Kaniho of Lihue.

“It should be closer to the stoplight so people are aware they have to stop at the stoplight,” she said.

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