The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Kokua Line column
Nov 28, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Question: Once again, lights are out along Nimitz Highway, this time under the freeway on the mauka side from Puuloa Road to Camp Catlin. It is pitch black and dangerous along that stretch. Previously, the state blamed a transformer problem, and it took more than a year to get lights back. People walk, jog, cycle and wait for buses there. Any update
Answer: That stretch will remain in the dark for at least another six months.
It seems as if the lights along Nimitz Highway, under the airport viaduct, have been out for most of the past couple of years.
There have been three incidents leading to blackouts in the area the past few years -- the latest resulting from yet another case of copper theft, according to the state Department of Transportation.
"While it may appear to be a prolonged outage, each incident was handled separately and was not related," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.
The previous two outages, which date back to 2010 and involved aging transformers, were repaired in January and April of this year.
The current outage on the Ewa-bound side of Nimitz, between Puuloa Road and Camp Catlin, happened in September, Sluyter said.
"We anticipate beginning the repairs in approximately six months after completing designs, estimates and procuring a contractor," she said. "We appreciate the public's patience as we work to restore the lighting in this area."
She said DOT inspectors are on the roads daily looking for problems and suspicious activity but that it helps to have the public also on the lookout.
"If they see something, say something and call 911," Sluyter said. "We believe that with the public's help we can deter illegal activity."
Hawaiian Electric Co. provided more information regarding the practice of using "double poles" until aging or damaged poles can be removed (see is.gd/G9j18j).
On any multiple-use pole, which supports electrical, cable TV and telephone wires, the top wires belong to the electric company.
The primary electrical lines carry the most power -- 46 kilowatts, for example -- while secondary electrical wires, which are connected to service lines to homes, carry less power, said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg.
The lowest wires on a pole are for telephone and cable, he said. "They are thicker than the electrical wires, and while they are dangerous, they carry less power than the electrical lines."
For the most part the old poles no longer have electric wires attached, although they may still have telephone and cable lines and, in some cases, streetlights, Rosegg said.
"Safety and reliable service are always our first concerns," he said. So, there might be instances in which a pole has to be shored up immediately but the electric wires cannot be removed immediately.
Damaged poles that threaten safety and reliability have first priority, "while we continue efforts to replace poles that are still functional but have the potential to fail," Rosegg said. Then there is work on poles required by construction, roadwork, etc.
"We try to do this in the most efficient way possible, directing our crews and contractors in ways that avoid wasted travel time and the like," he said.
To the "lady" behind me in the white SUV, on Sunday, Oct. 21. Shame on you! All your honking and yelling will not change the fact that two lanes are permitted to turn left from Wilder Avenue onto Pensacola Street. Next time you find yourself stuck in the right lane behind someone waiting for the left-turn arrow, just take a deep breath and realize lucky you live Hawaii. Lose the anger, live longer.
Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.
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