State failed to publicize Waianae road work that spurred traffic nightmare

State failed to publicize Waianae road work that spurred traffic nightmare
Published: Feb. 15, 2016 at 10:41 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2016 at 11:09 PM HST
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MAILI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When traffic is moving smoothly, it takes about six minutes for drivers to get from Maili to Nanakuli.

On Saturday, it took drivers 90 minutes or more to travel that stretch.

"It was crazy -- only one lane going out. I had to go to work. I just made it in time," said Maili resident Kathy Westbrook.

The line of bumper-to-bumper vehicles exiting the Leeward Coast stretched from Nanakuli to the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

Waianae Neighborhood Board Chairman Cedric Gates said thousands of people were trapped.

"I know that many people actually missed out on job interviews and flights. One person actually was late to their wedding," he said.

The state Department of Transportation didn't warn residents on the Leeward Coast that it was closing the makai lane of Farrington Highway on Saturday so maintenance crews could clear away overgrown grass.

"Unfortunately, we did not update our notifications to the community before we moved forward with the scheduling. We will be sure to do so in the future," DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara said.

But state Rep. Andria Tupola said the DOT shouldn't be scheduling the work on Saturday during those hours at all.

She said if she had known about the closure beforehand, she would have posted a warning on her traffic alert Facebook page. She would have also contacted the city.

"We need to do something more than just block a lane," she said. "We might need to open an access road, work with the city, get extra special duty officers out there."

Sakahara said DOT's crews worked on Saturday to try and catch up on a job that's fallen behind schedule.

They'll be doing it again this coming Saturday.

"No!" Nanakuli resident Rayleen Egami protested, when she heard there would be a repeat of the work.

"They should do it while everyone's not working, period, because people work here Monday through Sunday. So maybe in the evenings, or make a contraflow -- something!"

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