H-1 to get PM zipper lane - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

H-1 to get PM zipper lane

Dan Meisenzahl, state Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, state Department of Transportation spokesman

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A much discussed plan for a zipper lane to ease West-bound traffic congestion on the H-1 Freeway during the afternoon commute is inching closer to reality.

"That's the question we get the most," said state Department of Transportation spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl.  "What's going on with the PM zipper lane?  So we're really excited about that coming online.  Unfortunately we still have a couple legal hurdles to clear before we can do that," he said.

The contract to ready the freeway for the afternoon zipper lane was awarded to Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company in December, 2010.  But two other companies that bid on the job, Kiewit and Goodfellow Brothers, contested the award.

"That usually delays things about 12 to18 months.  This administration, our top priority coming in when it comes to highways was getting this project through, so we literally have people working on this every day," Meisenzahl said.

Meisenzahl said under a "best case scenario" the contract dispute will be settled this fall.  That would allow design and construction to begin.  The state anticipates the job will take up to two years to complete.  Under that "best case scenario" the afternoon zipper lane will be ready to use by the end of 2013.

The morning zipper lane opened in 1998.  It provides an additional lane for East-bound traffic on the H-1 weekdays between 5:30 am and 8:30 am.  The state estimates the zipper lane trims about 15 minutes from the morning commute.

"This is a project that costs us about 2.3M a year, and it's money well spent.  Especially when you consider the thousands of drivers it helps each day," Meisenzahl said.

The state estimates the additional 6.2 mile lane from Radford Drive to the Waiawa Interchange will increase West-bound capacity by 17% and cut an average five to ten minutes from the afternoon commute.

"You know when they bring the rail system in that's not going to solve everything.  It's got to be a multi-pronged approach.  The zipper lane is one of those things," Meisenzahl added.

The state expects the federal government to pay 80%, or $44-million, of the $55-million project cost.  The state would be responsible for the remaining $11-million.

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