Dept. of Transportation unveils traffic-reducing projects - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Dept. of Transportation unveils traffic-reducing projects

Brennon Morioka Brennon Morioka

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  Two multi-million dollar projects announced Monday could dramatically reduce commuter traffic on the H-1 freeway.  The Hawaii Dept. of Transportation (DOT) made the announcement Monday afternoon.

Phase one of the project will add a permanent afternoon contra-flow lane to ease traffic for folks heading home to the leeward side.  And phase two will widen the seemingly always choked up, H-1/Middle Street merge.

Rush hour traffic along the H-1 Freeway, near the Middle Street merge, is at full swing at the six o'clock hour, and traffic, typical this time of the day, is crawling.  That's why the state DOT says it needed to do something to fix traffic problems.

Traffic along the H-1 is almost as old as the freeway itself.   To alleviate some of the congestion, the DOT announced two projects designed to improve traffic flow.

The larger of the two projects could dramatically improve traffic into town from the H-1/Middle Street merge.  It aims to reduce the bottleneck effect we currently have, by adding an extra lane of traffic.

"This is going to be one of the most critical projects that the DOT has done in a very long time in terms of its impact to commutes," said Brennon Morioka, the director of the Dept. of Transportation.

The second project is a contra flow lane that will add permanent concrete barriers from the Radford Drive overpass to the H-1/H-2 merge, a distance of 6.2 miles.

"Commuters will save approximately ten minutes of travel time in the afternoon," said Morioka. "We will maintain in the morning the occupancy requirements. HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) 3 in the far left contra flow, HOV 2 in the center contra flow lane."

"What I like best about them is the quality of life it's going to bring to people and as you know, we have focused a lot of the development on the west side of the island," said Gov. Linda Lingle, (R) Hawaii.

Construction for both projects should begin sometime next year.

"This is construction and this is major construction," said Morioka.  "So we're not going to lie to the public that there won't be some form of disruption in traffic but we will do all that we can with the traffic control and with the contractors to minimize the amount of disruption to traffic and seeing where we can be working at night."

Morioka says the state traffic engineers will work collaboratively with their city counterparts on these projects that will benefit everyone on the island.

"These are intended to improve the quality of life for all of our residents by allowing them to spend less time in traffic, sitting on the roads, getting home quicker to their families," said Morioka.

The contra flow project will cost $15 million and the H-1/Middle Street merge project is around $40 million.

Construction for both projects should be finished by 2011.

The good news is both projects have federal funding.   So, it's 80 percent federal, and 20 percent state. So Hawaii taxpayers will only have to shoulder a small portion of the overall cost, which is approximately $140 million dollars.

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