JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - A combination of base access changes and Honolulu rail construction will likely cause major traffic delays for those traveling along Kamehameha Highway near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Big changes for base access begin Tuesday -- that's because the old system, known as the Rapid Gate card, is no longer accepted. Instead all contractors, suppliers, and vendors need to have a DBIDS credential -- Defense Biometric Identification System -- as of Tuesday morning.
Military officials say DBIDS is a force protection program designed to manage personnel, property and installation access.
There is no cost for the credential and as of Monday afternoon, 95 percent of all those who required access on base had already acquired their new pass, but because the new program rolls out Tuesday, officials have been warning folks to be prepared for the possibility of long lines and a gate backup in the morning when DBIDS goes into effect.
The new base access requirements happen to go into effect the same day that construction work between Aloha Stadium and the H-1 Interchange for the Honolulu rail project begins, and that's expected to create additional traffic congestion and overnight construction noise throughout the Pearl Harbor area.
Officials are warning commuters to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam using Halawa, Borchers and Makalapa Gates to plan accordingly because lane closures in both directions of Kamehameha Highway could delay traffic trying to turn onto base.
They're recommending these alternatives instead: Nimitz and O'Malley Gates -- both of which are open 24/7, or the Kuntz or Luapele Gates -- which have more limited hours of operation.
Officials say unless there is an emergency safety issue, there will always be access to base gates.
According to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, construction work on this phase of the project is expected to last the next five years, during which traffic will be moved to one side of Kamehameha Highway at a time each evening from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m.
A contraflow system will be in place along with special-duty officers helping to direct drivers, and officials say the Radford/Makalapa and Arizona/Halawa intersections will remain open.
Officials say sidewalks will still be open for pedestrian access, but there will be no dedicated bike lanes throughout the duration of the project.
So what's the advice to avoid the gridlock? Leave home early and give yourself a lot of extra time.