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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Drive Time
Two-year H-1 project almost complete

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Transportation Writer

Some readers have asked me when I was going to write some pleasant transportation-related news for a change, instead of how long we're going to be stuck in traffic.

OK, here's some good news: With the exception of two projects, the state is near completion of its two-year H-1 Corridor project to improve O'ahu's busiest roadway.

The state scheduled nine major construction projects along the metropolitan portion of the H-1 Freeway and other connector roads. Drivers have experienced numerous lane closures as work ranged from installation of new street lights to major resurfacing of the freeway lanes.

State transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said the only uncompleted projects are the water main installation along Kalaniana'ole Highway and East O'ahu bike lanes.

The Kalaniana'ole Highway project was originally scheduled to start in summer 2000, but Mayor Jeremy Harris delayed the start of the work so it wouldn't coincide with the state's H-1 improvements.

The state also delayed construction of bike lanes along Wai'alae Avenue from Keala'olu Avenue to Kalaniana'ole Highway, and from 17th to 21st avenues after bids for the project contracts came in too high.

Kali said other H-1 work, including the Punahou Street off-ramp, should be completed in the next few weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, the state restriped the Punahou Street off-ramp to help prevent near-misses among drivers. Motorists using the recently widened Punahou Street off-ramp say a new lane configuration is causing the problem when drivers change lanes.

Drivers were accustomed to using the right lane of the freeway to enter the off-ramp before deciding what lane to use to head toward Manoa, Punahou or Waikiki.

Now that there are two lanes entering the off-ramp, drivers are switching lanes at freeway speeds to get into their designated lane, prompting near-misses.

I talked to area resident Brian Kimata, who informed me about the lane problem after his wife nearly got into an accident when a driver cut her off on the off-ramp.

"I don't think they did enough to fix the problem," Kimata said. "But anything is better than nothing when it comes to how dangerous it was before."

State transportation officials said they are looking at placing signs informing drivers about the lane change.

Reach Scott Ishikawa at sishikawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.