STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2005
Recent repair work on the Likelike Highway included re-tiling of the Wilson Tunnels' walls.
Likelike set to reopen
Tunnel renovations finish ahead of schedule
Weather permitting, the state will reopen the Honolulu-bound section of the Wilson Tunnels tomorrow -- four days ahead of schedule -- following the completion of a major tunnel renovation, said state Department of Transportation Director Rodney Haraga.
"We did say one month. We're going to finish it a week earlier. Thank goodness that everyone was patient," Haraga said.
The state closed the Honolulu-bound tunnel Sept. 6 and expected to reopen it Thursday. Work on the Kaneohe-bound tunnel, the first phase of the project, was also expected to take one month but opened a day early on Aug. 4. The state will let motorists know when the Honolulu-bound tunnel will open on radio, television and highway message boards.
The state still needs to resurface about 200 feet of roadway outside the tunnels on the town side that will involve some overnight closures of the tunnels, said Scott Ishikawa, transportation spokesman. It will take a couple more nights of construction, and the state will have finished the Likelike construction that started in March 2004, he said.
Haraga credits good weather and some lessons learned from the first phase for the early completion of the Honolulu-bound bore.
Work on the project, the first major renovation of the tunnels in 25 years, started last year with some improvements done to the Kaneohe-bound tunnel. The main part of the renovation was the replacement of the concrete road surface.
Contractor Kiewit Pacific laid down a 10.5-inch-thick concrete surface in both tunnels over an area big enough to cover three football fields, Ishikawa said. Workers also placed about 1 million tiles in both tunnels to cover 100,000 square feet of wall space. Other improvements include better lights, drainage and sealant to prevent water seepage into the tunnels.
The federal government paid for 80 percent of the $13.8 million renovation, with the state picking up the rest, Haraga said.
The state estimates about 30,000 vehicles travel through the Wilson Tunnels daily.
Haraga believes the lessons learned on this project should make renovation of the Pali Tunnels easier.
"Now that we know, we have a track record, it shouldn't be that difficult to do the next tunnels," he said.
The state has yet to schedule renovation of the Pali Tunnels.