2 Leeward Oahu emergencies cause major traffic backup, push to o - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

2 Leeward Oahu emergencies cause major traffic backup, push to open access roads

Traffic on Farrington Highway was backed up for miles on Monday after two emergencies in Leeward Oahu.  It might have been even worse, but a state representative called police to open a private side-street to ease the gridlock.

Paakea Road in Lualualei runs through Hakimo Road and connects to Lualualei Naval Road. Part of the road has been blocked off since anyone can remember.

"I've lived here my whole life, 19 years of my life, this is the first time I ever saw it open," said West Oahu resident Aurora Peneku.

It was closed until Monday afternoon when a motorcyclist slammed into a van near Hakimo Road on Farrington Highway. The motorcycle rider was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The woman in the van suffered serious injuries.

Just minutes before that, two men were injured by an explosion at a military reservation in West Oahu. We're told the two civilian maintenance workers were doing landscaping work in Makua Valley. One of the men hit an unexploded ordnance while he was weed whacking, causing it to explode. The two were medevaced to Queens Medical Center. One was in critical condition, the other had minor injuries.

Traffic was backed all the way to Kapolei as authorities closed the Farrington Highway to investigate.

State House Representative Andria Tupola has been trying to open the access roads during emergencies since she has been in office.

"I had been working with HPD for awhile to make sure that when we had accidents that lasts more than two hours, where people are stuck on Farrington Highway, that we open the back access roads to alleviate pressure and congestion on Farrington Highway," Tupola said.

The two incidents happened shortly before 2:00 p.m. but Tupola said the access road didn't open until around 4:00 p.m. Tupola says it would have been opened much sooner, but the key to the access road was on the wrong side of the traffic jam in Kapolei. She says been trying to work with HPD and the city so this won't happen again.

"Unfortunately I wish somebody would have done this years ago and had a good procedure with HPD so it's just like clockwork. When something happens, we all move into place and we execute. But today was actually the first time that the Department of Emergency Management, HPD and I were working to try to get it open to get everyone with the right information so that they would know how to use the access road," Tupola said.

There are no plans to open these access roads permanently. But Tupola hopes the next time there is a traffic emergency, the response will be much faster.

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