Good news for commuters: RIMPAC gridlock slowly easing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Good news for commuters: RIMPAC gridlock slowly easing

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) -

More cars on the road and extra security for this year's Rim of the Pacific exercises has translated into gridlock for drivers headed into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

About 5 a.m., routes to the base on Radford Drive, Kamehameha Highway and the H-1 Freeway were busy and backing.

But the lines started to thin out about 6:30 a.m., and some speculated improved logistics and better scheduling could be the reason.

Some 25,000 military personnel from more than two dozen nations are in the islands for the war games.

Hawaii military officials have advised drivers to be prepared for additional congestion.

One driver said the better traffic Friday could be thanks to employees arriving earlier.

He said he's been arriving at work a half hour to an hour earlier.  “It’s made a difference,” he said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean I’m actually able to leave work any earlier.”

Another factor that may have helped Friday gridlock: fewer fewer traffic incidents along base routes.

The traffic associated with RIMPAC isn't new -- or unexpected.

The five-week-long war games are held every two years.

Traffic may continue to improve over the next few weeks, officials say, especially when RIMPAC personnel take to the seas for the next phase of their training. Right now the training remains in the “harbor phase,” which keeps most of the personnel on shore.

Meanwhile, RIMPAC supporters say congestion is a small price to pay for the event, which offers important training to participants.

Hawaii tourism officials also estimate the games bring an estimated $52 million to Hawaii's economy, state officials say.

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