NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rush hour relief is on the way for thousands of drivers along the Waianae Coast. The state is moving forward with a contraflow pilot project. An average of 50,000 vehicles travel through the area each day, according to the Hawaii Department of Transportation. The only access route is Farrington Highway.
"My daily commute is anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours and it depends cause if there's accidents all along the way then it just adds exponentially," said Nanakuli resident DeMont Conner.
One eastbound lane of Farrington Highway will switch to a westbound lane from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. between Piliokahi Avenue and Helelua Street. DOT officials hope to start the contraflow plan this summer.
"It's something that the community has been begging for for decades now. We can't thank the DOT enough for being open to this solution, a very common sense, efficient, and practical way to alleviate our traffic bottleneck," said Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha
The price tag is $300,000 a year. The contraflow lane will stop once crews finish a separate project to widen the four-lane highway from Nanakuli Avenue to Haleakala Avenue to include a new lane for vehicles making left turns. The construction work is expected to wrap up in April 2017.
"Once the project is done, there is no need for a contraflow in this area anymore because the fifth lane is in. After that, we'll start looking at if we should extend the contraflow out to other areas until the fifth lane project to Hakimo Road is done," explained Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director, Highways Division.
State lawmakers are also looking at extending the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Road. One possibility involves using a private road off Helelua Street.