Lane closures snarled traffic on H-1 Freeway

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 18 2013 12:23:57 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 18 2013 09:04:08 PM HST

Hawaii drivers spent a lot of time in their cars today because a perfect storm of road repairs caused traffic gridlock on the H-1 freeway.

HONOLULU -

Lane closures on the H-1 Freeway and surface streets were causing traffic problems Monday in Honolulu.

In the west-bound direction near the School Street on-ramp, a right lane was closed due to road repairs from a drainage problem, according to the State Department of Transportation.  One motorist called it a sinkhole.

"They try to minimize delays by not doing it during rush hour traffic, but obviously there is always traffic on our freeways so it does cause some disruptions," said Caroline Sluyter, the spokeswoman for the DOT.

But, since at least one westbound lane on the freeway between the Punahou Street overpass and the Ward Avenue overpass was closed, that forced drivers to zig-zag across the H-1.

Unsuspecting drivers got caught in the middle.

"I came from Papakolea, but I did not expect it to be bad like this," said Charity Kaina Holton.

Down by the Lunalilo Street off-ramp, patience was running out.

"We finally had to get off the freeway.  It was so bad it took us 40 minutes to get from the university to this exit over here," said Chelsea Tom.

PHOTOS: Traffic gridlock in Honolulu

Another East Honolulu driver managed to keep his temper in check.

"Not too bad, but I still working and I late to work," said David Makilan.

But the eastbound lanes on the H-1 Freeway wasn't much fun either.

A city repaving project on Punahou Street compounded the problem.  Two lanes on the Punahou Street off-ramp were blocked off.

There were reports of traffic backed up to the Mapunapuna area.

Another crew was working further down on Beretania Street which closed off a lane on Pensacola Street.

"We have been driving for an hour-and-a-half.  It took us an hour to get to the airport and to come back," said Janna Young.

And it wasn't much better by some reports on Nimitz Highway into town and around the Liliha area where crews are trying to upgrade traffic signals.

"It's 30-plus traffic signals across Oahu," said Sluyter.

The good news is that roads are being repaired.  But it's also the bad news, too.

The so-called sinkhole road work near School Street was finished Monday.

As for the mystery of the strange coning on the H-1 Freeway, the DOT said it's something to calm traffic, but on Monday it was a bad call.

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