No new zipper lane, but more lanes in the works for West Oahu commuters

No new zipper lane, but more lanes in the works for West Oahu commuters

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State transportation crews have been working on what's called the PM Contraflow Project on the H-1 Freeway in the area from Halawa to Waikele. But there's no contraflow lane, at least for now.

Instead, the Department of Transportation has been working on adding lanes by other means.

"What we're doing is we're widening the Pearl City viaduct," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter. "We're also creating an extra lane from Halawa to the Pearl City exit, and also widening from the H-1/H-2 merge out towards Waikele."

The DOT will re-stripe the lanes to add an extra lane. And an afternoon shoulder lane is also being built from Pearl City to Waipahu, similar to the townbound shoulder lane already familiar to morning commuters.

"During the p.m. rush hour, you'll also have the shoulder lane to drive in, plus the extra lane. So that will provide the intent of the p.m. contraflow lane without some of the negatives that are associated with that," said Sluyter.

One of the negatives is the $3 million a year it costs in operations and maintenance for a zipper lane. Another is that it would close off two lanes in the other direction while it was open.

The new lanes are scheduled for completion in December, and will bring needed relief for West Oahu commuters, who are also dealing with rail construction on Kamehameha Highway through Pearl City.

"Coming in from over here it's pretty bad," said Ron Asuncion in Waimalu. "What's happens is that they got like three lanes, then it shrinks down into two, and then it goes into four over here," he said, gesturing toward the highway.

Meanwhile, the H1 Rehab project in down is down scheduled for completion July 31, a week late because of rainy weather. But eastbound commuters are already enjoying the benefit of an extra lane.

"People are enjoying the four lanes that are already open on that," said Sluyter. "So just hang in there to the end of the month and then we'll have that finished up."

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