State to bring rush hour relief to Leeward coast drivers

Published: Aug. 8, 2016 at 8:59 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 8, 2016 at 9:29 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some rush-hour relief is coming for motorists who live on the Waianae coast.

Starting Wednesday afternoon the state will take one Honolulu bound lane and contraflow it for west-bound drivers on Farrington Highway.

The three lanes are expected to loosen gridlock.

"There's a real capacity problem going into the Leeward Coast and out of the Leeward Coast daily," state Department of Transportation deputy director Ed Sniffen said.

From about 3:30 to 7 pm Monday through Friday, the mile-long contraflow lane will run from Piliokahi Avenue to Nanaikeola Street.

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro said it should give Leeward coast residents relief they have been begging for.

"They see it in Hawaii Kai. They see it on Nimitz. They say, 'How come there's all these contraflows happening in other communities? Why can't we get a contraflow in Waianae where we really need it?'" she said.

When the contraflow is open, cones will set off the third lane and arrow boards will direct drivers. Town bound drivers will not be able to turn left at three intersections. The turn signals will be turned off.

Motorists can can turn around at the beach park then go mauka into Nanakuli valley.

"Anything that will help us get home safely is helpful," Nanakuli Homestead resident Rachel Kailianu-Conner said.

The state killed its idea for a U-turn lane using the "bridge to nowhere" because it would have taken away parking stalls at Kalanianaole beach park.

"We have Pop Warner that uses the park and they need the parking spaces there at the park," DeMont Conner said.

Sniffen estimates 50,000 vehicles a day use Farrington Highway, with 6,000 passing through Nanakuli during the peak afternoon hours.

"The increase in traffic came without the significant development that would improve the traffic. So we're trying to catch up right now to make sure we give the capacity back as soon as possible," he said.

The state is spending $500,000 to cover the contraflow lane for a year. Federal money takes care of 80 percent of the cost.

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