Westbound traffic crawls as crews clean debris from overnight cement spill

Westbound traffic crawls as crews clean debris from overnight cement spill
Westbound traffic at approximately 8:50 a.m.
Westbound traffic at approximately 8:50 a.m.

WAIPIO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Westbound traffic was at a near standstill Wednesday morning while crews continue to clean up debris from an overnight cement mix spill on the H-1 Freeway.

The owner of trucking company Pineridge Farms, Inc., Georgette Silva, said a malfunctioning gate on one of its dump trucks that was hauling a dry cement mix is behind the cause of the spill along lanes of the H-1 west in the Pearl City / Waimalu area to the H-2 northbound -- in Mililani and Wahiawa -- to lanes of Kamehameha Highway into Wheeler Army Airfield.

Silva said the driver had picked up his load from Hawaiian Cement in Halawa and was transporting it to Wheeler Army Airfield. She said it's possible that a sudden stop near the ongoing overnight roadwork on the H-1 in Pearl City may have shifted the load and forced it against the gate, causing the malfunction.

She said the driver noticed the gate was broken when he arrived around 3 a.m. at Wheeler and alerted his supervisor. The additional "J hook" safety lock that keeps the gate shut was missing on the truck and possibly popped off during the event, Silva speculated.

The company will be talking with drivers about the incident and inspecting vehicles in light of the accident, she said. To Silva's knowledge, this is the first time one of their trucks has been involved in such a large incident. She was currently unaware of any police action or citation the truck's driver or company may face.

Police say a citation does exist for "spilling loads," which has no bail attached to it, but instead requires a court appearance and a judge's decision on the bail and penalty. Pearl City police have not indicated that the company will be cited at this time.

Honolulu police notified state road crews early Wednesday morning, who began using street sweeping machines in the 3 o'clock hour along with some crews using shovels to do the manual labor.

Traffic was extremely congested on the freeway after police blocked off a portion of the H-1 in the Pearl City area at around 6:15 a.m. to clean up additional debris in the area. Backhoes were brought in to assist with the job. Crews also closed off northbound lanes of the H-2 Freeway. The ripple affect has backed up traffic along alternate routes, including Kamehameha Highway and Moanalua Road, as people tried to avoid the route.

It's not clear when lanes will be reopened.

Drivers are still urged to use caution and give space behind large vehicles in the event small rocks get kicked up and damage front windows or paint on vehicles.

Contact police if you notice other road hazards that could impact safe driving conditions.

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