State says extra Zipper Lane shaves minutes off commute

State says extra Zipper Lane shaves minutes off commute
Published: Oct. 12, 2016 at 6:41 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 12, 2016 at 9:18 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Before the State Department of Transportation expanded the Zipper Lane from one to two lanes the average count of vehicles traveling east in the morning was 4,000 a day.

It's been about two months since the two lanes have been operating and HDOT says the daily total has risen to about 5,000 cars.

"We thought we could get about a 20 percent increase in ridership in the Zipper itself, and we got that," Highways deputy director Ed Sniffen said.

"It's been great!" driver Darlene Lee said.

She thinks the added lane cut at least ten minutes off her drive-time to Kalihi.

"It would take me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to get from Kapolei to here," she said.

HDOT estimates many drivers are now saving 15 to 20 minutes because they can travel drive side-by-side. When the Zipper was single file only traffic could be slower than the lanes outside the Zipper Lane.

"We had about 2,200 or 2,300 vehicles at a max time frame in a lane that could only really accommodate about 1,600 or 1,900 during its peak," Sniffen said.

"When it becomes two lanes, H-2 goes smooth into their own lane," Lee said. "We don't have to merge. We are in our own lane so everybody just goes."

The state moved the concrete barrier to widen the zipper and add the extra lane. But for safety reasons HDOT closed the Pearl Harbor crossover -- the last point a driver could enter the zipper lane.

"In the interim we're trying to look and see if we can allow those in the HOV lane on the outside of the Zipper to go down the HOV ramp and see if they can get into the expressway on Nimitz," Sniffen said.

He said the state would have to do some modifications before that could happen.

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