New Nanakuli contraflow lane: Dream heading in, nightmare heading out

What Caused Contraflow Congestion

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Motorists gave mixed reviews to the state's latest effort to ease traffic heading into the Waianae coast.

While it seemed to improve traffic for afternoon commuters headed toward Waianae, the new contraflow lane on Farrington Highway in Nanakuli caused a major backup heading to town.

The additional lane runs for one and a half miles -- from just after Piliokahi Avenue to the vicinity of Nanaikeola Street. The lane is open from 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

By late Wednesday afternoon, westbound traffic in the corridor was moving smoothly.

"Was surprising because usually we'll have traffic right around Honokai Hale," said one driver.

"Yeah, usually I'm still stuck there by Ko Olina," said another driver.

But it was a nightmare trying to get out of Waianae.

Traffic was backed up to Maili, and the drive from Maili to Nanakuli took more than an hour as vehicles squeezed into a single lane. Some tried to drive down the dirt shoulder to save time.

"It's not good," said Waianae resident Tommy Couch, as other townbound motorists yelled out their displeasure. "See, you hear everybody yelling 'It's not working.' Cause it's not working for the people on this side coming out."

Drivers headed townbound also couldn't make left turns into Helelua Street, Haleakala Avenue and Nanakuli Avenue. They were detoured to a U-turn at Piliokahi Avenue.

"I only live Helelua, but we had to turn all the way around just to go back home. But we need to give it a try, right?" said one motorist.

Some were puzzled that there were no police to guide traffic.

"Not having police officers on the first day is an absolute disaster," said Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine. "There's been a lot of people not following the contraflow lane, so that's something that we can definitely improve on."

DOT personnel were on hand to monitor the lane and look at possible changes. So were some state lawmakers.

"I'm hoping that they're taking notes, because we're all taking notes on what needs to be fixed," said state Rep. Andria Tupola (R-Nanakuli, Maili).

"Hopefully people, cool heads, follow what the new signs say, and we'll all get home safely," said state Rep. Jo Jordan (D-Waianae, Makaha).

The DOT said it would be making adjustments to the pilot project.

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