At last, some road relief for drivers on 'Ewa Plain
• Photo gallery: North-South Road set to open
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
Today, following the opening of the North-South Road between Kapolei and 'Ewa, road-weary Honolulu-bound motorists from the 'Ewa plain will at long last experience something they haven't known before:
Previously, the choice was limited to taking a congested Fort Weaver Road to H-1 Freeway. Now commuters can tool along a less-crowded Fort Weaver Road to the freeway. Or, they can skip Fort Weaver altogether and take Kapolei Parkway to either the freeway or Farrington Highway.
"It's really a momentous event," said Tammy Mori, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. "It is a road that we've been talking about for many, many years, and the community has been waiting for it for many, many years."
After more than four years of construction and $155 million in costs, the three-phase project to build the North-South Road connecting Farrington Highway and Kapolei Parkway has been completed.
Frustrated south 'Ewa drivers who have resorted to taking back roads west to Kapolei to get to H-1 and shave precious minutes off their commute time to the east now can luxuriate in simply taking a direct route to work.
"This is the big event," said Maeda Timson, chairwoman of the Kapolei/Ma
kakilo/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board. "I can't believe it's finally happening. It's been like, how many years?"
DOT director Brennon Morioka said the state expects the new thoroughfare to slash 10 minutes off the typically one-hour commute time for residents in the Kapolei region heading into town.
Equally important, it is expected to ease what has ranked among the island's worst congestion and improve traffic flow for drivers in the Kapolei, Makakilo and 'Ewa communities — one of the fastest-growing areas in the state.
"This road also represents the state's commitment to improving the quality of life for residents of West O'ahu," Morioka said. "We just completed the Fort Weaver widening project. Combined with the North-South Road, we have provided drivers with an additional six lanes going in and out of the 'Ewa region this year."
NEW NAME ON WAY
The opening of the road will be marked by a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. today at the intersection of the new North-South Road and the future East-West Connector Road that will link North-South Road and Fort Weaver Road.
Not only will the new thoroughfare be unveiled, so will its real name.
"North-South Road was basically just a construction name ... once the road was ready to open, the true name would be unveiled at the ceremony," Mori said. "That's the exciting part."
The four-lane project was done in three phases beginning in 2005. The first phase, completed in 2007, was a 0.8-mile segment between Farrington Highway and Kapolei Parkway. Phase 2, completed last year, connected a new H-1 interchange to Farrington Highway.
Early this month, the city dedicated a 0.7-mile stretch of city-owned Kapolei Parkway, which would eventually allow motorists from 'Ewa to connect with North-South Road once it was completed.
The final state phase of the project was the completion this month of the 2.3-mile segment connecting Kapolei Parkway and Farrington Highway.
'IT'S ALL A POSITIVE'
The North-South Road is scheduled to officially open at 4 p.m. today, some six hours after the dedication ceremony. But even before the ceremony, area residents were singing praises to the road's potential for progress in the region.
Kurt Fevella, chairman of the 'Ewa Neighborhood Board, said connecting Kapolei Parkway to Farrington Highway and H-1 would not only be the beginning of better driving, but it will usher in other improvements to the area.
"The best part of all this
is going to come into play when we ... start getting our rail started. It's going to help people going to school at the University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu campus. We'll be able to go straight down Kapolei Parkway and utilize the facilities in the (proposed) new shopping mall."
Fevella said residents will now have easy access to the $130 million Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which is expected to open in 2011 on 15 acres adjacent to the North-South and East-West road intersection.
"This is going to help our community in every avenue," he said. "For me there's no downside. It's all a positive."