Nimitz construction project frustrates drivers

By Leland Kim - bio | email

NIMITZ HIGHWAY (KHNL) - Traffic is a constant issue here in Hawaii, and a busy stretch of Nimitz Highway is even busier, thanks to a three-month long landscape project.

Traffic is practically a way of life in Hawaii. Cars are bumper to bumper along Nimitz Highway midday. One Ewa-bound lane is blocked off so workers can plant palm trees on the center divider.

Drivers are frustrated.

"A lot of gas, a lot of stress," said Seth Burke, who was stuck in traffic.

"They could choose a better time to do it rather than the middle of the day when all the people are moving around," said Jim Macy, another frustrated driver.

And it's even more frustrating for those who drive for a living.

"I'm so stressed," said Sue Huh, a Charley's taxi driver. "Traffic jam is very heavy and I just get stressed."

The project is limited to just the midday hours, so as annoying as this is, it could be a lot worse if this was going on during the morning or evening commute.

"They shouldn't be doing it during the day," said Burke. "I think they should do it at midnight or some time at night."

The Hawaii Department of Transportation says the project cost is $408,100. And to have crews work on it at night? Overtime would bump the cost up 50 percent to $612,150.

Still drivers who have to sit in this midday Nimitz traffic hope there's a different solution.

"It's nice to have the new trees," said Macy. "It pretties up the middle of the road but it's kind of a bad time to choose to plant them."

For these drivers, it may be a case of not seeing the highway for the trees.

Another reason they can't do it at night? The DOT says crews have to bring in lights and extra equipment.

But the end is near. The project should be finished by September 10.