New paint job may ease Honolulu commute

Dan Meisenzahl
Dan Meisenzahl
Panos Prevedouros
Panos Prevedouros

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The State Department of Transportation is exploring the idea of re-striping a busy stretch of the H-1 freeway. The proposed changes would add an extra lane in each direction.

The DOT says the plan is still in its early stages, but if it works, the proposal could help ease the commute for drivers along a crowded Honolulu corridor.

The H-1 turns into a parking lot during peak periods. Now the state hopes a simple solution will make a huge difference for thousands of drivers.

"There are a lot of things that we're trying to do to relieve congestion. It's something that really has an impact on the quality of life of everybody. This is one of those ideas. We really hope it pans out," said Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

The first part would be a demonstration project adding a fourth lane in each direction between Punahou Street and Pali Highway. The second phase would run from Pali Highway to Middle Street. In order to fit the extra lane into the current space, the shoulders would be used. The lanes would also be narrowed to 10 feet from about 11.5 feet. The speed limit in that area would also be dropped by about five miles per hour.

"The shoulder, if you think about, usually when a car pulls over it's still taking up half the lane, especially if you're on the left-hand, on the inside lane. So impact-wise it might actually keep three lanes open if a car stalls in that fourth lane," Meisenzahl said.

"Traffic has grown to a point where it's too large for three lanes per direction to handle," said UH associate professor of civil engineering.

Prevedouros specializes in transportation engineering. He supports the proposal and said an additional lane along that busy corridor was one of the solutions he recommended in a report prepared for the state in 2003.

"It will be a substantial difference. It will make a tremendous difference slightly off the peak because during the peak hour traffic is too much to handle with just an extra lane," Prevedouros explained.

The state says the project wouldn't be too costly. The re-striping would be done at night to minimize the impact on drivers.

"We're working on the idea, whether it becomes a reality or not remains to be seen, but we're trying to do something and here's something that almost seems too easy so we just gotta make sure it works," said Meisenzahl.

The plan would need to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

A separate project aimed at easing congestion would widen eastbound lanes of the H-1 from Middle Street to Vineyard Boulevard.

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