To help ease the traffic backups in the Wahiawa area, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a change in the repair project for the Karsten Thot Bridge.
Starting Wednesday the southbound (Honolulu-bound) lane of the bridge will be opened for passenger vehicle traffic-only from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., daily, on Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays for the duration of the project.
The lane is open to passenger, emergency vehicle and school buses only. No buses or heavy commercial vehicles will be allowed. Currently the steel bridge is completely closed to all vehicular traffic for structural repairs that include replacing rivets and repairing and/or replacing steel beams.
The DOT says that an inspection in July, it was determined that the bridge needed immediate structural repairs. Since that time, a work platform has been built underneath the bridge. Crews have been performing preliminary work and further inspections.
The DOT says it made the "difficult" decision to close the bridge completely for safety reasons. Voluntary compliance with the passenger vehicle-only restriction and 10-ton limit was not being consistently followed. Since closing the bridge on Monday, DOT engineers have been monitoring and evaluating the traffic situation, listening to community concerns and complaints, and working with the Honolulu Police Department and the area military installations to mitigate the traffic issues.
Currently, DOT has two shifts working seven days a week to expedite the bridge repairs. The opening of the single lane in the morning will cause delays in completion of the project. DOT is attempting to counteract those delays by bringing in additional crews to work on this project around the clock. This work schedule will elevate the project cost which is currently estimated at $4.5 million dollars.