HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some relief is coming for drivers who get stuck in those afternoon bottlenecks heading into Waianae, but don't expect it right away.
The state has $32 million to add 2.5 miles to the fifth lane it installed two years ago on Farrington Highway.
“We always talk about how Kahala gets this, and Hawaii Kai and Kailua gets all the attention, and no one cares about Waianae,” state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro said.
“This is finally proof that people do care about us.”
The present length is just 1.5 miles and runs from Piliokahi Avenue to Helelua Street.
Most of the day the fifth lane is used as a turnout lane, but during the afternoon rush it’s used as a contraflow lane for westbound drivers.
Ken McNamara said it makes a huge difference in his trip home.
"I've been living out here for 14 years now and commute every day and work in Campbell. It actually has taken about 20 minutes off my drive home every night," he said.
Shimabukuro said the fifth lane also saves time during the morning drive.
“In the morning, it’s gotten way better. When you’re trying to leave Waianae it takes maybe 20 minutes off your commute,” she said.
She expects even more time savings when the the state Department of Transportation extends the fifth lane another 2.5 miles that will take it all the way to Hakimo Road.
"It should make a lot of difference because the traffic we got in here is one way in and one way out," leeward coast resident Reno Freuan said.
But the improvement won't happen overnight.
HDOT hopes to put the lane extension project out to bid by the middle of 2021.
“We would love it as soon as possible. But I appreciate and know that DOT is working as fast they can to make this happen,” Shimabukuro said.
“What’s another year?” McNamara said
Shimabukuro said meetings will begin in October for community feedback.
“It would not have been possible without the support of both the executive branch, the governor, DOT and of course the House and Senate of the legislature,” she said.
Some of the money for the project will come from the state’s surcharge on rental cars.
HDOT will also lengthen the shared-use path on the makai side of the highway and finalize pavement reconstruction and pedestrian safety measures.