The H-1 Zipperlane now ends and the Nimitz contraflow lane begins in this part of Nimitz Highway near Sand Island Access Road. On Aug. 15, the Zipperlane will connect with the Nimitz contraflow lane and extend into downtown.

changing Aug. 15

An extension to Iwilei will be
accompanied by a new onramp

The three-mile Zipperlane extension is whizzing to downtown Aug. 15.

State transportation officials are opening it one week before the traditional back-to-school rush to give morning commuters time to get used to the changes -- and to give the state time to make corrections.

"And hopefully by August 22nd when Beat the School Jam starts, the Zipperlane will be flowing freely and will allow for faster commutes into town," state Transportation Director Rod Haraga said.

The extension will connect the H-1 freeway Zipperlane with the Nimitz Highway contraflow lane, creating a continuous 15-mile, dedicated high-occupancy-vehicle lane from the H-1/H-2 freeway interchange to Hilo Hattie store in Iwilei.

Haraga said the extension will reduce drive times for morning commuters who already use the Zipperlane and Nimitz Highway contraflow lane by about five minutes.

About 4,000 drivers use the Zipperlane each morning and an additional 2,000 use the Nimitz contraflow lane.

The changes include:

» A new Zipperlane onramp for Pearl City and Aiea commuters near the Radford Drive overpass.
» A reduction in the minimum number of occupants required of vehicles in the Zipperlane and contraflow lane to two from three.

The Department of Transportation plans to release a video on how to properly merge into traffic on the Zipperlane.

Motorists will still be able to exit the Zipperlane before the Honolulu Airport offramp, where the current Zipperlane ends. However, only vehicles already in the Zipperlane will be able to enter the Nimitz contraflow lane. The current entrance to the contraflow lane at the end of the H-1 freeway viaduct will be closed.

The Zipperlane and contraflow lane will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Work on the $9 million project began in January and was scheduled to be completed next month.

But the state pushed the contractor to finish before Aug. 22, when about 40,000 University of Hawaii students go back to school, Haraga said.

The majority of public schools resume classes the following day.

State Highways Division

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