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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

H-1 lane shutdowns delayed

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser West O'ahu Writer


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Weather delays have pushed back by about two weeks the plans by the state Department of Transportation to detour H-1 Freeway traffic onto bypass routes for about one mile between 'Ewa and Kapolei in order to make way for creation of the North-South Road interchange.

About one mile on both sides of the freeway are now scheduled to be shut down for about six months beginning June 24, state Transportation Direction Brennan Morioka said.

Drivers on the three lanes heading in each direction will be diverted to three newly built bypass lanes along each side for about 4,500 feet and then get back onto the freeway.

When plans for the project were announced in December, DOT officials had expected to begin the rerouting on June 9.

While the speed limit along the diverted routes will be reduced from 60 mph to 50 mph, DOT officials said they don't believe the temporary bypass situation will cause any major traffic headaches.

"The first week or so, things might go a little slow, just people are going to be a little bit timid in driving on the bypass just because it's just different," Morioka said. "So we expect some get-to-know-you kind of time for people to adjust to that bypass for a short period of time. But we're not reducing the amount of lanes going through that area. Overall, once people get used to that area, we think there should be very minimal effect on the commute."

Traffic east-bound will be diverted on the night of June 21, and vehicles west-bound on the night of June 22 in preparation for the June 24 switch, Morioka said.

The closure is expected to affect more than 100,000 motorists who travel to and from West O'ahu daily. Construction crews will literally tear down an existing bridge structure on the freeway and create a new one that will establish a new interchange about halfway between the Kapolei-Makakilo and 'Ewa-Kunia interchanges.

The new interchange will tie into the $136 million, 2.5-mile North-South Road now under construction.

The two projects in tandem are expected to spell traffic in the burgeoning West O'ahu region, particularly as a reliever to the bottlenecks that occur on Fort Weaver Road in 'Ewa and Fort Barrette Road in Kapolei.

The North-South Road and the new interchange are slated to open at the end of 2009.

Morioka said a series of reminder notices about the H-1 rerouting will be put out by the agency as the closure nears.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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