NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The City and County of Honolulu has one message for motorists who live along the Waianae Coast: If you're hitting the road Friday, expect delays.
The message was reiterated during a Friday afternoon press conference after a 24-inch transmission main break near the Kahe Power Plant in Nanakuli on Thursday wreaked havoc on commuters in the area. The break was reported around 6:30 p.m., and repairs are expected to run through Sunday at the earliest.
City officials advised any Leeward Oahu residents who work in town that have the ability to leave work early to do so – or risk being stuck in traffic for hours.
"We're anticipating that the traffic will be bad going into and out of Waianae," said John Nouchi, acting director for the city's Department of Transportation Servies. "We're encouraging everyone with flex hours to leave early, or asking people to stay in town to help with gridlock."
Authorities say traffic signals have been adjusted to help with the gridlock, and special duty police officers will be on-hand to assist motorists, but with no alternatives available to drivers – attempts to coordinate with the federal government to open the Kolekole Pass were unsuccessful – there is little else to be done.
City officials say the right, eastbound lane of Farrington Highway is closed between Pohakunui Avenue and the Kahe Power Plant.
"They're going to use the stop-and-go method, meaning they're going to stop traffic in one direction completely, let one side go, then (do it) in the opposite direction," said Assistant Chief Clyde Ho of the Honolulu Police Department.
The issue, city officials say, involves a 20-foot long break on a 24-inch transmission main that sits along Farrington Highway. The pipe brings water to the Leeward Coast from Barber's Point and Ko Olina and supplies water for as much as 60 percent of the area.
As repairs continue, the issue could eventually become less about traffic and more about the loss of water service for Waianae residents.
"Our wells and our tunnel sources on the Waianae Coast are not enough to keep up with the demand," said Ernie Lau, a Honolulu Board of Water Supply spokesperson. "Low water pressure is a result of (the main break), and some may temporarily be without water."