Ask The Mayor

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: When Kulanihakoi Street access to Piilani Highway was first closed, those of us who live off Kulanihakoi Street were given a notice that this closure would last until April 30. Since this date has passed, is there a new expected opening date? We all are anxiously waiting for the reopening, so a trip to Safeway or the Kihei pool isn’t a major ordeal. Mahalo for your attention and consideration.

A: Mahalo for your attention to this, and I can tell you that I have been monitoring our state government’s work on this project, which involves the installation of underground utilities for our future Kihei high school.

My staff was told by the contractor, Goodfellow Bros., that the project has experienced some delays since February due to weather conditions and other related issues. Work is now expected to be completed by May 31.

A notice to motorists about the extended work was published Thursday in The Maui News. My office also was told that Goodfellow Bros. went door to door to nearby residents to provide them an update on the closure.

As a reminder, this construction work is in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation, Maui Electric Co. and Hawaiian Telecom.

To contact Goodfellow Bros., please call their office at 879-8868.

Q: Recently, I hit a four-way stop and drivers had no idea what to do when a pedestrian is standing on the corner. It seems like most people know you’re supposed to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, but what do you do when they’re waiting on the sidewalk?

A: This is a very good question, and I think a good rule of thumb for both drivers and pedestrians is to always proceed with caution. That being said, pedestrians generally have the right-of-way in crosswalks, especially at a four-way stop. Drivers naturally have to stop at a stop sign, which would give time for pedestrians to make their way across the street. The only condition state law provides is that a pedestrian cannot suddenly leave the curb and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. This can come into play when people try to cross mid-block crosswalks, where cars do not have a stop sign or traffic signal.

I realize sometimes pedestrians will motion for you to pass in your vehicle, which you can oblige, but it’s a good habit to give pedestrians the right-of-way regardless of the situation. Here are some tips for driving safely in Maui County, as provided by the state Department of Transportation:

• Always be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk. A pedestrian may be hidden from view.

• Be vigilant. Always look for pedestrian movement in your direction.

• Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Proceed when the pedestrian has safely passed your vehicle.

• Be aware that pedestrians can be hidden from view by stopped vehicles on multilane streets.

• When driving between dusk and dawn, watch for pedestrians in dark clothing. Always use your headlights.

• Always watch for pedestrians when backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Children can be hidden from view.

• Make sure that you are fit to drive. Any physical or medical changes can alter your driving abilities.

While there are many laws that protect pedestrians on a crosswalk, it doesn’t do much good healing broken bones or bringing you back to life. Here are seven more tips for walking safely in Maui County:

• Always cross the street at a crosswalk. When no crosswalk is available, please cross at a corner.

• Be vigilant. Always look left, right, left and continue to look while crossing the street.

• Do not enter the crosswalk if the light indicator is counting down. The countdown is for pedestrians already in the crosswalk.

• Always walk when crossing the street. Never run.

• Always wear bright or reflective clothing when walking between dusk and dawn.

• Always watch for vehicles backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Drivers don’t always see you.

• If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic.

Finally, streets and roundabouts designed to slow down speeding cars and well-marked crosswalks also are critical to keeping everyone safe. Vision Zero is an effort our Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization is taking to eliminate traffic deaths by designing our transportation system so that people walking and biking don’t pay for mistakes with their lives. To learn more, visit mauimpo.org/vision-zero-maui.

For more information on safe walking and driving, visit hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/safecommunites/walkwisehawaii/.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.