HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After months of advance notice to the public, work has begun on a year-long project to resurface and make other improvements to a busy stretch of the H-1 Freeway.
Crews began closing off the freeway's eastbound lanes from the Likelike Highway to the Ward Avenue overpass at 8 p.m. to begin what the Department of Transportation is calling the H-1 Rehabilitation project.
Motorists were informed about the detours and closures well in advance, with the DOT hoping that it would help reduce the possibility of gridlock during the project.
"We actually started months ago, working with our stakeholders, getting the information out to EMS, police, our partners at the city, the hospitals," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.
During the project, crews will be resurfacing the freeway, digging down 12 inches in some spots to fix the worst potholes. Not only that, they'll also be installing new lighting and drainage systems and adding a lane in both directions.
The work is long overdue on the three and-a-half mile stretch of freeway that sees 200,000 vehicles a day.
"One of the reasons why it wasn't done is because it is such a difficult project to do in such a congested area," said Sluyter.
The H-1's eastbound lanes will be shut down Sunday night and Monday from the Likelike overpass to Ward Avenue between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. For the remainder of this year, two lanes will be closed in either direction, also at night, with work Sunday through Thursday nights.
Motorists have been told to take Nimitz Highway or Dillingham Boulevard eastbound while the freeway is closed. Honolulu Police said motorists should avoid the freeway in the area, and will be doing its part to keep possible traffic tie-ups to a minimum.
"We'll have special duty officers in the area," said police Maj. Kurt Kendro. "We'll also be working with the state as well as the city transportation services to make sure that the streets around the highway, the alternative routes, are all free and clear."
The DOT has already been working on the H-1's westbound lanes in Pearl City, with the work starting at 7 p.m. That's at the tail end of evening rush-hour traffic. Officials are asking for patience while the projects are underway.
"Unfortunately we'll have to suffer through this traffic for a little while, but in the end it will be better for everyone," said Sluyter.
Work is scheduled to be complete next July. Officials hope the new surface will last 12 to 15 years.
SPECIAL SECTION: H1 Rehab Project