Zipperlane work causes headaches
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the H-1 freeway, Ewa-bound, was a bumper-to-bumper mess because the two left lanes were blocked off. Why couldn't they perform the work after rush hour?
Answer: Besides offering an apology to all the motorists who had to endure the traffic jam caused by repair work on the Zipperlane that day -- some stuck for several hours -- the state Department of Transportation says it is "reviewing what happened to see what could be done differently" so it does not happen again.
"While the work was previously done six times on Monday holidays for the past three years, we need to look at how we can change the work schedule after this week's problems," DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa acknowledged Friday.
He explained that it takes at least eight hours to open and close the Zipperlane -- four hours to open and four to close -- so its repair work has basically been targeted to Monday holidays.
Deployment of the Zipperlane began at 12:30 a.m. Monday. At 7 a.m., workers began to change and repair 1-ton blocks used for the lane and to paint new lane markers along its entire 12-mile stretch, Ishikawa said.
Most of the work was finished by midafternoon, but it took another two to three hours for the markers to dry and another four hours to close the lane. By that time it was 9 or 10 p.m., and "the damage had already been done," Ishikawa said.
The Zipperlane, likened to "a large bicycle chain," needs repairs twice a year because of "wear and tear and numerous accidents," he said. That said, "we're going to have to somehow figure out another way to do the work."
One possibility is to begin work earlier -- on the Sunday evening before a Monday holiday.
"We've been avoiding any Sunday closures up to this point because many people tend to stay out late Sunday, if the next day is a holiday," Ishikawa said. Sunday daytime is not considered an option.
The other option is choosing a holiday, such as the Fourth of July, Labor Day or Christmas Day, in which everyone is off so there is no afternoon rush hour.
The gamble there is that a lot of people will be on the road going to social events, Ishikawa said.
For now the best the DOT can offer motorists is, "We will discuss (the problem) and come out with options on how to do this differently," he said.
To the elderly woman walking outside a crosswalk on Beretania Street in front of the state Capitol on the opening day of the Legislature. You stepped into my lane from behind several stopped cars without looking to see if the roadway was clear. You are very lucky that I was paying attention and the only thing lying on the roadway is some rubber. Ironically, half a block away, the state has put up a "Walk Wise" display. Your total disregard for your own safety is unbelievable. Please use a crosswalk. -- Natalie Iwasa
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