Leeward Oahu contraflow sticking around longer than expected
WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Delays in the Farrington Highway widening project mean an afternoon contraflow lane that's snarled traffic for east-bound commuters — but improved it for those heading west — could be around until the end of the year.
The news is a concern for some West Oahu teachers, who say the contraflow has cut into their after-school tutoring.
Since many teachers at Waianae High School and other area schools don't live in the area, they rush to leave campus before the contraflow begins at 3:30 p.m. in order to avoid the traffic.
"Everybody is bailing after school to get out there before it goes out," said math teacher Aaron Day. "In fact, it has actually created a rush before the contraflow starts so things are even backed up early."
The 1.5-mile Farrington Highway afternoon contraflow lane was launched last fall and has improved traffic heading into Waianae.
But it's a different situation for east-bound drivers.
Some of the teachers say they've tried to readjust their schedules, but others are no longer able to offer extra tutoring after school to students who need help.
"I offer morning tutoring, but not all of the students can take advantage of it because a lot of them do catch the school bus in," said Amber Riel, a 10th grade math teacher at Waianae High School. "If we were able to offer tutoring to our normal students every day after school then they wouldn't be falling behind in their classes."
The contraflow pilot project was supposed to wrap up in July, once the construction of a dedicated fifth lane along the highway was finished.
But the state Department of Transportation says crews have encountered slowdowns and now aren't expected to be finished with the work until the end of the year.
"We've improved the time by 15 minutes westbound. We've impacted people 20 minutes eastbound. The thing is, we have three times the travelers going westbound than we do eastbound so overall the system, it's a big improvement," said DOT deputy director Ed Sniffen.
Some community leaders hope that DOT officials will consider other options for the fifth lane.
"It'll definitely be used for turn lanes, mostly east-bound turn lanes in the morning, but the possibility is there to use it also for contraflow because it runs almost along the same exact path as the current contraflow," said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Nanakuli, Waianae, Makua).
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