State to add second Zipper lane to ease morning commute

Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 2:17 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 10:47 PM HST
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PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Good news for West Oahu commuters: The state will add a town-bound morning Zipper lane on the H-1 Freeway in August.

State Transportation Department spokesman Tim Sakahara said crews will shift the Zipper lane's movable concrete barrier a little over two feet to create a second lane.

Zipper lanes are open to cars with two or more passengers, motorcycles, and electric vehicles.

Officials will also keep the Zipper lanes open an extra half an hour, from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Sakahara said the second Zipper lane will hold an additional 1,700 cars an hour. Officials hope to ease Zipper lane congestion, and encourage more drivers to carpool.

"Sometimes the zip lane can be moving at the same rate of travel as the main lanes on the H-1 going east-bound so this should really help keep the zip lane moving at least faster than the main lanes of travel," he said.

Commuters had mixed reviews on the addition.

"Anything helps," said Kunia resident Fale Lafitaga. "Everybody that lives on the west side can use all the help, all the type of ideas that can alleviate the traffic so anything helps."

But Mililani commuter Andrea Lee said people who aren't carpooling also need some relief.

"Adding more HOV lanes for drivers of two or more, that's great for them, but that's not going to help the single drivers," she said.

Moanalua resident Ian Nakamura agreed.

"The Zipper lane isn't where the traffic is," he said. "The traffic is more at the single-driver lanes. So if you want to try and relieve the traffic, you should open up an extra lane for the single-occupancy rather than the zipper lane because the traffic for the zipper lane doesn't get backed up."

The Zipper expansion is timed to take place before private schools and University of Hawaii students return to class.

The project will require some re-striping of westbound lanes, Sakahara said.

Sakahara said the idea to add a Zipper lane came out of a challenge from the governor: He wanted departments to find low-cost, quick solutions to ease traffic.

The Zipper lane was first launched in 1998.

Its expansion comes as officials are also adding an afternoon contraflow lane along Farrington Highway in Nanakuli, and widening Farrington Highway from Nanakuli Avenue to Haleakala Street.

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