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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 7:44 p.m., Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Mauka half of H-1 overpass to be demolished tonight

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

State Transportation workers tonight will demolish at least the mauka half of the H-1 Freeway's 'Aiea pedestrian overpass after a military vehicle rammed through it this afternoon, rendering it unsafe and clogging traffic for thousands of O'ahu commuters.

The collision damaged the vertical support beam of the overpass and the horizontal portion that stretches across the H-1 and may require officials to dismantle the makai side as well, said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

"Strands of cable are the actual strength of the structure and some are already snapped," Ishikawa said. "After we demolish the mauka half, we'll have to make an assessment of the makai side. They're actually two separate structures connected by an expansion joint in the middle."

Transportation officials will close all six 'ewa-bound lanes at least through tomorrow's rush hour and will not open the normal town-bound zipper lane or the lane closest to the middle of the overpass.

The result will be only five lanes of town-bound traffic instead of the normal seven, Ishikawa said.

"Leave early and be patient," Ishikawa said. "When people get inpatient, that's when we get more accidents."

Sherrie Menor, a Mililani accountant for a telecommunications company, flew in from Las Vegas this afternoon with her husband, Nestor, and planned to take a taxi ride to her in-laws in Waipahu.

The Menors had taken the same taxi ride recently at a cost of $40 — plus tip.

But after more than 2 1/2 hours in the taxi on the H-1, the meter already stood at $86 and the Menors were not even to the Ice Palace.

"It ain't working," Sherrie Menor said. "Thanks to that crane hitting the overpass, we're still here. (The fare) will probably be triple now."

The damaged occurred at about 1:45 p.m. today when a large crane being towed on a trailer behind a military truck rammed through the nearly 17-foot tall pedestrian walkway, Ishikawa said.

Transportation officials today had no immediate cost of the damage.

Advertiser staff writers Mike Leidemann and Curtis Lum contributed to this report.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8085.

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