Motorists can expect multiple lane closures of H-1 Freeway between Pali highway and Punahou Street for the next couple of weeks.
The nightly lane closures are part of a re-striping project which will add an extra lane in each direction.
Work hours will be from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., Friday and Saturday nights, and from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m., Sunday through Thursday nights.
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) will be closing up to two lanes in each direction to complete shoulder and restriping work. The project will result in an additional westbound lane from Punahou Street to Pali Highway and an additional eastbound lane from Ward Avenue to Keeaumoku Street.
Work is expected to be complete by the first week of August, weather permitting.
The state says the project will cost around $200,000 and the restriping would be done at night to minimize the impact on drivers.
The following is information from the DOT:
The H-1 Freeway Restriping Demonstration Project will restripe the existing freeway lanes westbound between Punahou Street and Pali Highway and eastbound between Ward Avenue and Keeaumoku Street.
The three existing through lanes will be narrowed and an additional outside (right) lane will be created to act as a traffic merge and weaving lane. This project is part of a wider effort by DOT to improve traffic congestion on Oahu's freeways and highways.
--- Frequently Asked Questions ---
1. How wide is the H-1 Freeway between Punahou Street and Pali Highway?
There is a minimum 44-foot width available for this section of the H-1 in each direction.
2. How wide are the existing lanes?
The existing lanes are 12-feet-wide.
3. How wide will the new lanes be after the restriping?
The new lanes will be 10-feet-wide with 2- to 3-foot-wide shoulders. Currently shoulders in the area are up to 4-feet wide.
4. Are there any similar lane conditions already existing on the H-1?
Yes, at the following locations:
H-1, from Aiea to Waiawa: Existing 1-foot inside (left) shoulder.
H-1, Middle Street Overpass: Existing 10-foot-wide lanes.
H-1, University Avenue to Middle Street: Inside (left) shoulder width of 1-and-2-feet, outside (right) shoulder width of approximately 4-feet.
In 2006, a similar restriping project narrowed the eastbound H-1 lanes between the Liliha Street On-Ramp and the Pali Highway Off-Ramp (Exit 21A), creating an outside (right) merge/weave lane, improving traffic flow and highway safety.
5. Will the new lane-widths accommodate emergency vehicles like ambulances, police and fire trucks?
Yes. Improved traffic flow during peak hours will allow vehicles to move over to more effectively to accommodate passage of emergency vehicles. DOT is collaborating closely with Honolulu Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services to ensure that all access concerns are fully addressed.
6. What about buses?
Buses already use the 10-foot-wide lanes on the H-1 at Middle Street without problems.
7. And cargo container trucks?
Cargo container trucks are already limited on the H-1 through Honolulu due to height limits of existing freeway overpasses. Most trucks use Nimitz Highway and Ala Moana Boulevard as their primary routes.
8. How will stalled vehicles be handled?
DOT will be increasing the Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) to help remove stalled vehicles as quickly as possible. FSP's coverage zone was expanded by 3.8 miles to University Avenue in August 2011. The improved traffic flow will also allow vehicles to move over effectively to bypass stalled vehicles. If you need to contact the FSP you can call 841-HELP.
9. Does DOT plan anything else to maintain the safety on the H-1?
The speed limit will be lowered to 45 miles per hour and additional traffic signage will be installed, including warning signs to alert approaching traffic.
10. Are there plans to restripe other sections of the H-1?
Phase II of the project will continue the H-1 restriping from Pali Highway to Middle Street. Future work dates will be announced.
11. Have other alternatives, such as a viaduct widening or ramp metering, been considered?
Yes. These alternatives were considered, but each would create significant issues. Widening of the elevated viaduct would be cost-prohibitive. Estimated construction costs for additional lanes in each direction would total approximately $650 million. Additional costs for right-of-way acquisitions and tenant relocations boost that cost estimate to approximately $1.5 billion for the densely-populated areas from Punahou to Kalihi.
Ramp metering, which would regulate the flow of traffic entering the freeway at each on-ramp, would not be practical due to the short lengths of the 11 on-ramps in the area. Traffic would quickly back up on each ramp and create congestion on surface streets near freeway entrances.