Expect traffic, high security for 75th commemoration of Pearl Harbor attack
PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of people will head to the islands next week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A week-long series of events will feature survivors and dignitaries, and there's a possibility that President Obama could be among those in attendance.
All those additional visitors and all that extra security is expected to wreak havoc on traffic, and officials are urging commuters to be aware of planned road closures and avoid affected areas if possible.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that on Dec. 7, getting around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be tough.
"If you are just driving through this area to commute, avoid it. Seek another way," he said.
Some 4,000 people are expected to attend the commemoration ceremony at Pearl Harbor, and another 2,800 will pack the lawn of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center to watch a livestream of the event.
To accommodate attendees, Aloha Stadium opened its parking lot at 4 a.m. for about 2,000 vehicles. People could then catch a shuttle bus to the event. However, the lot was full by 7:15 a.m. The Naval Station and visitor center lots were also full by then.
"The mayor and his team give me great confidence that we can handle anything that comes in terms of traffic or people," said retired Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, who is overseeing event planning.
To minimize congestion, the state and city will close eastbound lanes of Kamehameha Highway from Honomanu Street to Center Drive. Traffic will be rerouted onto Moanalua Road.
"During the morning commute we see about 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles per day going through there. Some of those people will still be going in that area. When we look at the diversion onto Moanalua Road, it can handle that amount," state Department of Transportation Highways deputy Director Ed Sniffen said.
The Kamahemeha Highway eastbound closure will start at 4 a.m. and could last until 12:30 p.m.
"If we determine that the traffic seems to be moving well on its own before 12:30, we'll at that point make a call and return traffic to its normal flow," Honolulu police Assistant Chief Clayton Kau said.
Emergency vehicles and city buses will be allowed onto the highway.
Meanwhile, Waikiki will also see more traffic.
On Friday, Sunday and Monday, Pearl-Harbor themed movies will be shown on Waikiki Beach. And on the evening of Dec. 7, a Pearl Harbor Memorial parade will progress down Kalakaua Avenue.
For a full listing of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack, click here.
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