HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Wednesday, the state unveiled its new and improved ZipMobile, an investment Governor Ige says is long overdue.
The new machine, custom-built in Rio Vista, California by Lindsay Transportation, is expected to be put in service next month and cost the state about $1.5 million. A federal grant helped cover some of the cost.
State transportation officials say one of the key features of the new Zipmobile is that it's more efficient, able to move the barriers up to 30-feet, that's six feet longer than the older models.
"On certain sections of the route, there will be six extra feet of shoulder along the route, which is better for safety if someone should have a stall or something goes on," said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
The new model doesn’t move the barriers any faster than the old ones, but Governor Ige says it’s much more environmentally friendly.
"The new diesel engines will reduce emissions from the ZipMobile by 96-percent, so it's a tremendously cleaner vehicle that is better for the environment," Ige said.
The current ZipMobiles are more than 20 years old, and mechanical problems have caused traffic nightmares on the H-1 Freeway.
In 2015, a computer glitch stalled the ZipMobile near Waikele, transforming the H-1 into a parking lot for hours.
"Having a brand new machine means at least we have one reliable vehicle. It reduces the stress on the maintenance people on the old machines because they're 20 years old," said Ige.
The new machine will become the primary ZipMobile.
One of the older ones will be kept as a back up, and the other will be used for parts.
As for using the new equipment to provide relief for evening rush hour, transportation officials say there's no plan for that since they created a permanent westbound lane from Aiea through Waikele two years ago.
“Not only is it available for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but we don’t have to have a maintenance contract or someone to go operate it and open it every time,” Sakahara said.