Likelike Highway reopens after HECO completes work before afternoon commute

Likelike Highway reopens after HECO completes work before afternoon commute
Crews began closing both directions of the Likelike Highway around 6 a.m. Wednesday. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Likelike Highway has reopened in both directions after Hawaiian Electric crews wrapped up their work earlier than expected.

The highway shut down entirely at 6 a.m. and wasn’t expected to reopen until 6 p.m.

But about 2:45 p.m., the state Transportation tweeted that Hawaiian Electric crews finished early and all lanes of the roadway had been reopened.

The morning closure had Windward Oahu drivers crawling through their morning commutes on alternatives thoroughfares ― the Pali Highway and H-3 Freeway.

It also prompted HECO to defend the highway’s full closure on a weekday.

Hawaiian Electric spokeswoman Shannon Putnam said the closure was needed to install new steel poles. She said the work was scheduled for a weekday “in part based on the availability of the crane.”

She added the work needed to be done during the day for safety reasons.

“It takes up to four hours total to set up and demobilize the crane needed for the work, so a shorter work window would only allow crews to install one pole a day,” she said, before the highway reopened.

“Installing new poles so close to the existing poles with energized lines would be a safety hazard specifically for the pole located in the residential area. These options were not safe or practical.”

Authorities said the morning closure triggered at least one serious road rage incident.

About 7 a.m., they said, a driver on the Kaneohe side of the highway ran over cones in an attempt to get through. Putnam said a special duty officer was on scene.

Construction crews also reported that drivers were “yelling at their crew members, but there were no physical threats,” Putnam said.

This story will be updated.

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