After our 2014-2015 walk audits with national ‘Complete Streets’ leader, Dan Burden, and community stakeholders, Senator Chun Oakland, Representative Ohno and I proposed several short-term and longer-term improvements for the Nuuanu Avenue area.
One recommendation was to install audio-clicking devices in the traffic signals at the School Street/Nuuanu Avenue intersection, which is one of the most heavily-traveled sections included in the Honolulu Complete Streets Implementation Study Location Report – Nuuanu Avenue from Kuakini Street to Craigside Place (Draft 1, 2015).
The reason for installing audio-clicking signals at the new traffic signals installed at this intersection in 2014 is the large population of visually-impaired pedestrians that walk through the neighborhood on their way to and from the Ho’opono Services for the Blind facility nearby. Throughout the week, Ho’opono assists hundreds of visually-impaired individuals, most of whom live within walking distance or catch the bus to Ho’opono. Thus, pedestrian safety improvements for the visually-impaired has been an important priority for Nuuanu residents.
In 2014, I asked that audio-clicking features be added to the School Street/Nuuanu Avenue intersection traffic signals, based on several constituent requests. In 2015, Department of Transportation Services Director Formby’s response was that “…the traffic signal at the intersection of School Street and Nuuanu Avenue is ADA compliant and meets all accessibility requirements. Walgreens conducted a traffic study for the intersection of School and Nuuanu as part of the development requirement. The traffic study identifies a left turn signal should be installed, but no mention of audio signals for the vision impaired.” (RISR #558345).
We subsequently learned that Department of Transportation Services (DTS) staff was reluctant to authorize installation of audio-clicking devices at the School Street/Nuuanu Avenue intersection because the devices often generate noise complaints from residents who live near traffic signals where such devices were installed.
However, DTS representatives are reconsidering the department’s position because the intersection is bordered by high-volume commercial businesses like Walgreens Drugs and a Seven-Eleven convenience/gas stop rather than residential apartments, and because of the volume of visually-impaired pedestrians in this area. As such, DTS will consider installing audio-clicking devices in the traffic signals at the School Street/Nuuanu Avenue intersection if Nuuanu Neighborhood Board #12 and community stakeholders demonstrate strong support for this feature.