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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 25, 2002

All of H-3 renamed for ex-Gov. John Burns

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

Gov. Ben Cayetano has quietly ordered the entire H-3 Freeway to be named after former Gov. John A. Burns.

Former Gov. John Burns died in 1975.

Advertiser library photo • 1972

The order is contained in an executive memorandum issued 16 months ago but never revealed or implemented by the state Department of Transportation, officials said.

The department, which had announced earlier this year that H-3's primary tunnels had been renamed in Burns' honor, said it is working to make the name change for the freeway a reality.

"To honor the contributions of former Governor John Burns ... , the H-3 Freeway shall be named the John A. Burns Freeway," Cayetano wrote in his executive memorandum to Transportation Director Brian Minaai on March 23, 2001.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said the official name change has been slowed by a backlog in the department's sign-making workshop.

The John Burns Freeway name also will appear on the next official state transportation map, which is revised every four years, Kali said.

The freeway signs announcing the change will be small and rather inconspicuous, along the lines of those recognizing that all freeways in the state are part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

"For the most part, it will still be known as H-3," Kali said. "We won't be taking down or changing any of the big signs with that designation."

Cayetano's action created a minor flap earlier this year when the department announced that the H-3 tunnels would be renamed for Burns instead of former Highways Division chief Tetsuo Harano.

Several people, including Burns' daughter Sheenagh, protested the name change, saying it was a slap in the face to Harano and his family. In his memorandum, Cayetano notes that others had questioned the appropriateness of naming the tunnels and highway after a living individual such as Harano. That designation had been ordered by legislative resolution in 1994.

Kali said the department announced the tunnel's name change this past March, after it had placed a new sign on the face of the tunnel, but didn't note at the time that there was a name change pending for all of H-3.

"We were still working on the freeway signs so we didn't want to announce anything about that yet," she said. "We're not sure when the new signs will be ready."

Chief Appeals Court Judge James Burns, the son of John Burns, said he was pleased that the highway will be named after his father, who died in 1975, more than 20 years before the freeway was finished.

"It's an honor," Judge Burns said. "I don't think the H-3 would have been built amid all the controversy if the Old Man didn't say go ahead and do it. I think he'd be happy and chuckling to know that he's got a highway named after him now."