Wednesday, December 29, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Westbound traffic (left) on the H-1 freeway yesterday
was dense but kept moving near Pearlridge.

Zipper Lane closing
avoids repeat of gridlock

Ewa-bound traffic was backed
up from Waipahu to downtown
Monday evening

By Leila Fujimori


Roadwork on the H-1 Zipper Lane from Waipahu Street to Waiawa stopped well before 3 p.m. yesterday, preventing a repeat of Monday's gridlock.

The Zipper Lane was closed in time to open all Ewa-bound lanes for afternoon rush-hour traffic yesterday, and a state highway official said the early closing would continue until work is completed tomorrow.

Ewa-bound traffic was backed up for miles Monday evening from Waipahu to downtown Honolulu because the Zipper Lane had remained open for roadwork, taking up two Ewa-bound lanes and adding more than an hour to commute time for many.

That resulted in numerous complaints yesterday to the state Highways Division.

Pericles Manthos, state highways administrator, said this holiday week was chosen to do the $3.8 million job because "it's the lightest commute we have of the year."

Judging from the morning traffic with the Zipper Lane closed, they did not expect traffic problems that afternoon.

"By the time we found out about afternoon traffic, it was too late to do anything," Manthos said. "The city extended green-light times on Kam Highway and Moanalua Road, but by then gridlock had already occurred."

Some commuters were irked because they could not see any roadwork being done. But Manthos said work was being done below the road's surface.

Crews began digging holes in the road Sunday to install stronger concrete supports for attaching guardrails to bridge abutments. They poured the cement for the supports on Monday, so could not move the zipper back, and continued work that night, Manthos said.

Additional minor work may continue next week.

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