PM zipper lane project starts in west Oahu - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

PM zipper lane project starts in west Oahu

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AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

While the bitter rail battle continues on Oahu, transportation officials are trying to alleviate traffic, right now, in less controversial ways. On Tuesday, the DOT launched the H-1 freeway PM contraflow project.

One recent study says we have the worst traffic in the country. Another says we're less courteous on the roads. State planners are hoping a new zipper lane project will help alleviate some of that stress.

State transportation officials say the seven mile stretch of west-bound zipper lane will run from Pearl Harbor - near the Radford drive overpass - to Waikele during afternoon rush-hour. The first of the project's two phases begins with a big fix - much of it done at night and in off-peak hours.

DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter says, "They're going to be repairing the deck of the freeway on the innermost lanes, and it'll go for 16 months. It'll be heading from town - out - first, and then, it'll be coming back on the other side.

The project costs $82 million. 80% of the funding comes from the federal government. The state pays the rest out of revenue generated from things like the fuel tax, vehicle weight tax, and registration fees.

Phase two involves the "zipper" itself. "This project will install adjustable concrete barriers, similar to the morning zipper lane, to create a dedicated westbound lane," says state DOT director, Glenn Okimoto.

The zipper lane for that eastbound morning commute opened in 1998. It can handle up to 1,500 cars per hour. Right now, about 700 vehicle, an hour, travel it. The state estimates the AM contraflow lane cuts up to 20 minutes off the commute. It's hoping for similar results, in the evening, once the project finishes in late 2013.

Phase one of the project is scheduled to start within weeks. For more information, check out the DOT's website, www.pmcontraflow.com.

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