Nimitz flyover might help traffic flow


POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed rush-hour “;flyover”; lanes above Nimitz Highway as part of her multibillion-dollar modernization of highways. The state should go forward with completion of a structure that has long been a part of the city-state transportation plan.

Opponents of the rail system between Kapolei and Ala Moana proposed the High Occupancy Toll lane system as an alternative to rail, citing what they claimed to be the success of such a viaduct in Tampa, Fla. They maintained that a HOT lane system alone would relieve traffic congestion at a fraction of the cost of a rail system.

Toru Hamayasu, the chief planner in the city's Department of Transportation Services, explained that HOT lanes by themselves would create their own congestion in downtown streets, because all of the estimated 20,000 users would exit downtown.

Hamayasu said proponents of the HOT lanes were unable to explain what would happen to cars after exiting the viaduct, where the backup would occur. Billions of dollars would be needed to widen streets in the downtown area to relieve congestion caused by the new stream of traffic, he said.

Hamayasu predicts that the rail line and the 2.2-mile flyover system, without tolls, between the H-1 freeway near Honolulu Airport and Iwilei will complement each other. The two-lane Nimitz flyover is to be one-way into town during the morning and away from town in the afternoon, eventually in tandem with the rail system. The flyover will not eliminate the inbound morning traffic queue but will move it closer to the downtown destination, he said.