NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After several costly setbacks, relief is just around the corner for thousands of Leeward Oahu drivers stuck in daily gridlock.
Crews are widening Farrington Highway from Nanakuli Avenue to Haleakala Avenue to create an extra lane for left turns.
The state plans to open the fifth lane on January 16. The change will remove vehicles making left turns from the normal lanes to keep traffic flowing.
Ka Waihona o Ka Naauao Public Charter School is in the construction zone. Principal Alvin Parker hopes the dedicated turn lane will also improve safety.
"We've had four of our faculty members rear ended turning into the school over the course of the last three years," he said. "It is a nightmare situation when people are coming to a screeching halt behind you."
The project length has doubled, dragging on for three years. The state blames several discrepancies between the as-built drawings used by the designer and the actual locations of water, sewer and utility lines.
"Twice the construction had to be stopped to allow for modifications to be made to the design to avoid impacting those underground utilities," said Shelly Kunishige, a spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
The delays drove the cost up from $10.1 million to $16.6 million, according to Kunishige. The price tag includes $700,000 annually to operate the afternoon contraflow lane through Nanakuli. The state is pays for 20% of the project. The federal government is covering the remaining 80%.
"I'm hoping that once people start using the auxiliary lane, we can immediately start to assess, yes, this is positively impacting traffic or yes, we might need the contraflow again," said State Rep. Andria Tupola (R-Nanakuli, Maili).
Kunishige said the DOT hopes to secure additional state funds for the contraflow.
"We are finalizing a consultant contract to maintain that contraflow, but we don't know exactly how long we'll be able to maintain it without the necessary funding," said Kunishige.
Once the new lane opens, there will be two eastbound lanes coming out of the contraflow area for drivers leaving the Leeward Coast.