Tuesday, January 16, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

East side motorists fume

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

HAWAII KAI — Edward Schell likes to think of himself as an informed citizen, but Saturday’s construction work on Kalanianaole Highway caught him and many other motorists off guard.

A lot of drivers knew roadwork was coming. The state Department of Transportation told residents last week that a two-year project to replace water mains along Kalaniana
ole Highway would begin in February. But no one counted on the start of a month’s worth of other work on Kalanianaole on a holiday weekend — or the miles of backed-up traffic — not even transportation officials.

The Gas Co. began replacing lines in the median strip at Ainakoa Avenue on Friday. On Saturday afternoon, eastbound traffic was backed up to the Kapiolani Boulevard on-ramp, and tempers flared.

Work will continue through Feb. 14, with a few days off to allow for the Sony Open golf tournament in Waialae.

"I didn’t know The Gas Co. was going to start," Schell said. "They were all supposed to work simultaneously while the holes are there, rather than digging up the road again. I know the work is coming, I just didn’t expect it so soon."

Marilyn Kali, state transportation spokeswoman, said she knew the Gas Co. wanted to put in a new line, but was unaware they were doing it now.

"That’s why the Kalanianaole Highway work was put off," Kali said yesterday. "We stopped all construction on any state roads that would affect the Waialae area. They (The Gas Co.) have blanket approval for repair work. I don’t know if they were issued a permit or not until I check tomorrow. Everything is closed today. It wasn’t on our list of closures."

The Gas Co.’s work over the weekend along Kalanianaole Highway backed up traffic all the way to Kapiolani Boulevard.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The state plans to begin a two-year project the first week in February to replace aging water mains and repave the highway.

The work was planned to begin after the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club ended. The tournament runs from Thursday through Sunday, but preliminary events are already under way.

The Gas Co. said its workers will be on the job today and tomorrow, but will monitor traffic to see whether they will work on Thursday.

They definitely won’t work on the Kalanianaole on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because of the Open, said Steve Golden, company spokesman.

The Gas Co. was surprised by the number of complaints from angry motorists who got stuck in traffic on Saturday, Golden said. Crews were out again yesterday, even though it was a holiday, he said. The goal is to get ahead of the state, which is managing the water main replacement project, because the work must be done before or after the water main replacement is completed, Golden said.

Water mains will be replaced on the mauka side of the highway, while gas pipes are in the median strip, nearer the makai side.

"We underestimated the amount of traffic," he said.

The Gas Co. is closing off one eastbound lane while crews lay new pipe, Golden said.

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