PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a break a week ago for the Super Bowl, it was back to work -- and back to traffic backups -- on the H-1 Freeway through Pearl City.
The state Department of Transportation closed the three right lanes of the H-1 westbound between the Kaamilo Street overpass and Waipahu off-ramp for deck widening and concrete pours as part of the Pearl City Viaduct Deck Widening and Repair project.
The DOT reopened one of the lanes by noon for the concrete curing process. All lanes were scheduled to reopen by 7 p.m.
The lane closures meant that traffic was still backed up on the freeway and on alternate routes, including Kamehameha Highway.
"Well, it's always been slow here on certain days," said resident Dave Bernhardt while waiting at the Waimano Home Road stop light. "Sometimes it's just painfully slow to go from here to Home Depot."
During the past few weeks, some irate motorists have complained that they couldn't see anyone actually working. State officials said the lane closures were needed to allow newly poured concrete to dry and cure.
A department spokesman said this weekend, crews started their work earlier Saturday so that the concrete would cure earlier, and lanes could reopen more quickly. But many driver still avoided the H-1.
"Before, yeah, it was really worse," said Waipahu resident Rodney Igarta, who had just picked up his mother from work. "I'm really trying to avoid the freeway."
A possible weekend standstill was avoided on Kamehameha Highway when the city postponed work on its rail project. Lane closures that were scheduled to start Friday night at Acacia Road near Pearl Highlands Center will begin Monday at 8 p.m. instead. One westbound left-turn lane and the inside westbound lane of Kamehameha Highway near the Acacia Road intersection will also be closed. These 24-hour closures will extend until mid-2015. That means that next Sunday's traffic may be heavier.
However, one newcomer tried to keep things in perspective.
"The traffic's not bad since we have all this beauty around us," said Diane Cheatham. "So, it's worth it."
To receive traffic alerts from the Honolulu Police Department, click here.
To receive alerts from the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, click here.