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« HAWAI‘I COUNTY JOINS McDONALD’S OF HAWAI‘I IN STEPPING UP FOR PEDESTRIAN SAFETY | Main | KVBID, county promote pedestrian safety program (as reported on, March 14, 2012) »

School Safety Zones

Since 2009, the department of Public Work’s Traffic division has continued designating safety zones for pedestrians near schools.  A safety zone is defined in section 24-3, chapter 24, in Hawai‘i County Code on Vehicles and Traffic “ as the area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians …protected, marked, or indicated by adequate signs plainly visible at all times.”

In 2009 crosswalks were installed on the Kealaka`a Street extension; Americans with Disability Act (ADA) ramps leading to new pedestrian overpass were completed, and sidewalks extended.  Public Works also installed three additional traffic calming measures on Kealaka`a Street, two Smart Signs and a flashing light alerting motorists to reduce speed to 20 mph in the school zone.

Smart (radar) Signs are informational signs that display the speed of oncoming vehicles or a reminder for the driver to slow down.  Smart Signs use highly visible light-emitting diodes (LED) to make motorists more aware of their speed and to encourage safer driving behavior.  They are a traffic-calming solution that has been proven to slow traffic and are installed in residential areas and school zones.

Zigzag stripes were installed 110-feet before the crosswalk on Kealaka’a Street to encourage motorists to slow down.  Zigzag stripes capture the attention of motorists, who then slow down to look at them as they approach the crosswalk.

“The problem is the high speed zones on the main road fronting the schools,” said Ron Thiel, Traffic division’s chief.  “Some of these roads are owned by the County,”  he added.

There are safety zones at Keonepoko elementary school on Kahakai blvd in Puna, and Kealakehe high school on Keanalehu drive in North Kona.

A school safety zone consists of traffic calming devices, crosswalks, and signage.  The cost is $35,000-$50,000.  Price depends on the different types of traffic calming devices, pedestrian signals, and signage.

Last year Smart signs were installed along Keanalehu drive.  Reflective bands on utility poles, shark’s teeth around the curve leading to the stop sign on Kahakai blvd and Zigzag lines at the new crosswalk were recently added surrounding Keonepoko elementary school.  A LED Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon will be added at the crosswalk.

The division is currently reviewing a request for school safety zones at Waimea elementary school and Hawai‘i Prep Academy in South Kohala.

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