Summer roadwork
revs up

Several major projects around
the island will start during the next
few weeks and last through 2005

Motorists should expect a summer of traffic snarls as major projects to repair and improve Oahu highways -- mostly along the H-1 freeway corridor -- begin within the next two weeks.

"I'm just dreading the construction," said 33-year-old Gerald Dungca, who lives in Makaha and drives to work in Halawa daily. "It'll make (traffic) worse, actually. After the construction, we'll just have to see how it is then."

Fast facts on construction

A glance at impending transportation construction work:

» H-1 freeway widening, Kaonohi Street to Pearl City offramp.

» Moanalua Freeway resurfacing, from Aloha Stadium to Kalihi.

» Eastbound Middle Street Tunnel repair work.

» H-1 freeway repair work, from Pearl City to Kaimuki. » Sand Island Parkway bridge replacement.

However, longtime Waipahu resident Annette Yamaguchi said these projects are necessary to solve long-standing traffic problems.

"I'm a visionary and I see long term," she said. "It is a step in the right direction. ... The bottom line is, if you really want to see progress, then we need to put up for future generations for whatever projects that come along."

State transportation officials at a news conference yesterday announced the projects ranging from widening the freeway to repaving and filling potholes on the freeways from Pearl City to Kaimuki.

The Transportation Department's projects include:

» A $55 million H-1 freeway project will begin June 7 to add a sixth lane in the Ewa-bound lanes from Kaonohi Street to the Pearl City offramp to reduce the bottleneck during the afternoon rush hour.

Residents living under the Waimalu Viaduct were concerned about the noise and dust coming from construction crews, as well as the backups in the streets.

"I foresee it already," Carlito Rabanal, who lives on Ponohale Street, said. "Residents will have to get up a half hour to an hour early just to get out of the neighborhood."

Construction is scheduled to last for 18 months until December 2005. Lanes in both directions will be closed during non-rush hour times. Currently, 226,000 vehicles use this section of the freeway, and an estimated 284,000 vehicles are projected by 2022.

» Resurfacing Moanalua Freeway in both directions from the Aloha Stadium to Kalihi, beginning June 7 and lasting for six months. All lanes will be closed one section at a time, the first from Aloha Stadium to Red Hill, during night hours for crew safety reasons. Motorists are asked to use the H-1, Nimitz Highway or Salt Lake Boulevard. The project will cost $13 million.

The Transportation Department will open a hot line at 587-6316, for public complaints on both the H-1 widening and Moanalua Freeway projects. The hot line will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a person answering calls.

» Repairing the eastbound Middle Street Tunnel. It will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekdays.

» Repairing the H-1 freeway from Pearl City to Kaimuki, including work on potholes and rail fixtures, beginning Monday.

» Replacing the Sand Island Parkway mauka-side bridge's metal platform, beginning Tuesday. Traffic will be contraflowed to the makai side of the bridge.

"We're asking motorists to bear with us with the projects this summer," said Transportation Director Rodney Haraga. "If we don't do something about it now, we're going to end up in gridlock."

The worst congestion will be at night when most of the work will be done, said Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa. He asked that motorists drive with caution around the areas, for the safety of the contractors and state workers.

These "long overdue" projects, Haraga said, are beginning in the summer because traffic is lighter with schools on break.

"We want to at least start in the summer to get people used to it," he said. "That way, they know how the traffic will be with the construction."


Details and costs of road projects

A look at major state transportation construction projects:

H-1 freeway from Kaonohi Street to Pearl City offramp: Widening project to begin June 7. Cost: $55 million. Completion: December 2005.

Moanalua Freeway: Resurfacing in both directions from Aloha Stadium to Kalihi, beginning June 7. Cost: $13 million. Time: Six months.

Eastbound Middle Street Tunnel: Repair work starting next week will close the tunnel 9:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. weekdays.

H-1 freeway from Pearl City to Kaimuki: Repair work on potholes and rail fixtures, beginning Monday.

Sand Island Parkway: Replacement of the mauka-side bridge's metal platform, beginning Tuesday. Traffic will be contraflowed to the makai side of the bridge. Cost: $4.7 million.

Fort Weaver Road:

» First phase: Widen the road to six lanes from the current four from Farrington Highway to Laulaunui Street. The Transportation Department hopes to start the project this month, but is waiting for Department of Health approval. Cost: $6.3 million. Time: one year.

» Second phase: Continue the widening from Laulaunui Street to Geiger Road. Cost: $19.8 million. Time: Two years, projected to begin next year.

Farrington Highway, Nanakuli to Kaena Point Park: Install concrete barriers in the median between Nanakuli and Makaha from Hakimo Road to Kaukama Road to prevent head-on collisions. Improve sidewalks in parts of Waianae. Restripe crosswalks in Nanakuli. The Transportation Department hopes to start this month, but is waiting for Department of Health approval. Cost: $7.2 million. Time: 16 months.

H-1 freeway, demonstration project: Experiment will close the Lunalilo Street onramp to the H-1 freeway during the morning rush hour to see if it helps alleviate traffic from East Oahu. Cost: $200,000. Time: 3 months, starting in late August.

Likelike Tunnel: Improve the tunnel by fixing leaks, improving the drainage system and adding ceramic tiles to better vision inside. Cost: $13.8 million. Time: In progress since March.



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