PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Motorists who already contend with traffic on the weekdays now dealing with some delays on Sundays as well, as the state Department of Transportation is increasing weekend work on the H-1 Freeway in the Pearl City area.
The DOT shut down the two left lanes of the freeway in the westbound direction between the Pearl City and Waipahu at 9 a.m. One eastbound lane was also closed.
Westbound traffic slowed down a bit as motorists merged right, but traffic flow was smooth after that point to Waipahu during the day.
Meanwhile, crews worked on the major project to remove and replace the concrete pavement. "Because we're doing concrete work, it's very noisy for the neighborhood below, so we're trying to expedite the project and try to do some work during the day. We realize that it is an inconvenience to motorists," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.
Most of the work has been done at night for the past several weeks. "During the day we can get about four times as much work done as we can get done during a regular night," said Sluyter. "And the issue with this project is not only the traffic, but the noise."
The noise is coming from the process being used to remove the old concrete, called hydroblasting. "They take water and they shoot it down," said Sluyter. "It breaks up the concrete but it keeps the rebar in place. Another machine comes up behind and sucks up the concrete, and then after that we pour new concrete in."
The project also suffered delays because of two traffic mishaps last month: first, when an overheight truck load damaged a pedestrian overpass in Aiea, and second, when a refuse truck hit the freeway median on Halloween, forcing crews to close several westbound lanes, which caused huge traffic backups for several hours.
"On those nights we didn't work on the deck repairs because the traffic was already bad," said Sluyter, "So we have had some setbacks because of that."
Crews plan to close a third westbound lane at 6:30 p.m., and a fourth lane at midnight. The lanes will be reopened at 5 a.m. Similar lane closures are scheduled again next week Sunday.
DOT engineers will look at the impact of the Sunday work to determine whether to continue those lane closures. The westbound project is scheduled for completion in spring 2013, followed by repair work in the eastbound lanes that is expected to take another six months.
"You know it's never a good time to do work on the freeway, so we're trying to get it finished as quickly as possible," said Sluyter.