HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Your eyes aren't deceiving you: The Zipper lane is wider than it used to be, and from Pearl City to the Zip Mobile "barn" it's striped for two lanes.
Some drivers are wondering if they can drive in that new lane.
The official word, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara, is that drivers can use it, but only if the striping is complete. Vehicles must drive single file in the un-striped areas.
Sakahara said DOT estimates that the added lane will increase Zipper usage from about 4,000 vehicles a day to more than 5,000 a day.
"The people in the right lane will have to get off of the Zipper Lane near Pearl Harbor," he said. "The people in the left lane will have to continue in the Zipper Lane towards Nimitz Highway."
University of Hawaii traffic engineer Panos Prevedouros said the added lane will help keep traffic flowing.
But he also feels that once the twin Zipper lanes are in service, the state should convert the high-occupancy vehicle lane on the highway into an additional lane for single-occupant vehicles.
"Having two high-occupancy lanes and another high-occupancy lane on the outside, it's totally an overkill. There is no demand for that," he said.
Kunia resident Iolani Young agrees.
They shouldn't require drivers to have two occupants in the HOV lane if they're going to open the second Zipper lane," she said.
But DOT said doing that would remove an HOV lane for carpoolers from Pearl City and Aiea who can't get in the Zipper lane.
"We still want people to have an HOV lane option, especially for those folks who don't have the option of getting into the Zipper Lane because they simply didn't enter the freeway in time to get into one of those entry points or crossovers," Sakahara said.
He said the DOT has no plans add new entry points to the Zipper lane. He said the plan is to have the Zipper Lane striping work for two lanes completed by the middle of next week.
DOT said the start of the two lanes will originate near the H-2 area when fully complete.
Crews are hoping to finish the work by the end of next week, weather permitting. They hope to open the entire two-lane stretch by Aug. 22 for the start of private schools and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.