Zipper lane problems snarl aloha Friday morning commute

Zipper lane problems snarl aloha Friday morning commute

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Commuters were hit with unusually bad traffic this morning and it's thanks in large part to the zipper mobiles being broken.

Despite being huge the zipper mobiles aren't likely something you notice until both of them are broken at the same time.

There were brake lights galore this morning, especially along the 13 mile zipper lane route from Waikele to Nimitz Highway. It's in large part because the 4,000 carpooling vehicles that usually use the zipper lane were jammed in with the rest of the rush hour traffic.

"Obviously we live on an island so the spaces are super limited and anytime one thing goes wrong you really feel the impact," said Caroline Sluyter, Department of Transportation Public Information Officer.

The state has two zip mobiles. One has been broken since December 30 and is awaiting parts. The brakes on the other one locked up this morning and for the first time since the zipper lane opened in 1998 both zip mobiles were down at the same time.

The zipper lane costs $3 million a year to operate.

"It shows how important the zipper lane is. Obviously everyone saw the traffic this morning and the need for that is really great," said Sluyter.

The mechanics spent six hours and took the brakes off the already broken zip mobile and put them on the other, but not in time to salvage today's commute.

"Of course people are calling in and they're frustrated and we understand that. We do apologize for the problems we had today," said Sluyter.

Fortunately it is an aloha Friday and Monday is a holiday so you won't have to think about the zipper lane again until Tuesday when the state says it will be open again.

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