WAIMEA, Hawaii: There will be alternate lane closures in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. along the Mamalahoa Highway between Waimea Schools and Kinohou Street, where the Waimea Shell Food Mart is located, starting Friday May 25th into Sunday (and maybe into Tuesday) for streetlight work. But this is not just any streetlight work.
Hawaii County officials share the details on the switch to “light-emitting diode lamps”, or LED, in this media release:
The Traffic Division of the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Public Works is going green, and in the process will save a lot of green for taxpayers. An initial conversion of 47 street lights in Waimea from low-pressure sodium lamps, or LPS, to light-emitting diode lamps, or LED, will begin tomorrow, May 25 through Sunday and may continue into Tuesday. Alternate lane closures along Mamālahoa Highway between Lindsey Road near the Parker Ranch Center and Kinohou Street near the Waimea Shell Food Mart will be in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The LPS lights currently used to illuminate county streets at night burn with an orange tint. The LED lights to be installed by the county give off a greenish tint which does not reflect off wet roads. The change in color will be subtle, as seen on the Wailoa River Bridge in Hilo, where the LED lights were installed as a demonstration project.
“When I asked about the ones on the bridge, people said they didn’t even notice,” said Traffic Division Chief Ron Thiel. “So I don’t know if people in Waimea will notice the change in color, either.”
What motorists may notice along the mile-long stretch of Māmalahoa Highway between Lindsey Road near the Parker Ranch Center and Kinohou Street near the Waimea Shell Food Mart is a difference in visibility at night – the LED bulbs will emit a more uniform light with less glare. Thiel said the industry is changing so fast that bulbs installed on Wailoa Bridge last year have already been improved upon – the models to be installed in Waimea are 30 percent brighter.
Despite a significant increase in brightness, the lights will help improve stargazing on top of Mauna Kea, Thiel said. That’s because the actual lamp will be shielded, something astronomers have been seeking for a while.
Thiel said commencement of this project comes at an opportune time, since the current set of LPS lights are nearing the end of their lives. “LPS is supposed to last four years, but in high-wind areas like Waimea, they are not even lasting two years,” Thiel said. “The LED manufacturers say their lights should last 16 years, but they don’t even know since they haven’t been used for very long. We’re 10 to 20 years, which is tremendous either way you look at it.”
While Waimea will get the first large-scale installation, Thiel has ordered 1,000 lamps using $500,000 he received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Thiel, who said it will take Public Works about a year to install them, said he is not sure where the next installation will take place, except it will be near a traffic signal.
Installation of the LED lights exceeds one of the recommendations of the county’s Green Government Action Plan, which calls for 500 LED street lights to be installed.