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New lanes to be added on H-1, nightly road closures looming

By Brenton Awa
Published On: Jul 25 2013 09:36:00 PM HST

Major roadwork is coming to H-1. A project that's been put off for years because of the traffic it'll create. Now plans to re-stripe and restore a busy stretch of the freeway will start in about two months.

HONOLULU -

The Department of Transportation has announced its plans to rehabilitate part of the H-1 freeway. In September, the DOT will start work on 3.5 miles of the H-1 in both directions from Middle Street to Ward Avenue.

"This is a bold attempt by the DOT to address an area most congested," says Alvin Takeshita, highways administrator at the Department of Transportation.

In the past, engineers have shied away from creating a plan to help alleviate congestion on the freeway near Middle Street because of the traffic backup the work would cause.

"Don't just grumble, fix it. If there is a problem, don't just stare at it, it's not just going to go away," says Takeshita.

The plan's scope of work lists more than just repaving the road. The $42 million project will add an extra lane to both sides of the freeway.

"There's over 200,000 vehicles that travel through this corridor and there's only six lanes now and so having four lanes now, adding one in each direction is going to help," says Jadine Urasaki, deputy director for the Department of Transportation.

The new pavement will contain a more expensive type of asphalt that is stronger than what's been used in the past. The surface is meant to last 10-15 years as compared to the current 7-10 years. Upgrades to the lighting system and drainage are also in the works.

But the city has restraints on space to work and drivers might feel the squeeze. Currently a lane is 11.5 feet wide, but once work's completed, lanes will be narrowed down to 10 feet.

"It's not going to resolve and solve all of our traffic nightmares, but it's going to help the quality of life in getting us to and from work," says Urasaki.

Roadwork will happen Sunday nights through Friday mornings from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. To finish as quickly as possible, the state will allow contractors to shut down one direction of the freeway a night for up to 120 nights.

Work is expected to last for a year and once complete, the new speed limit will be 45 mph as compared to the current 50 mph.

Getting off the freeway might be your best move whenever you can find an alternate route. The DOT will change the timing of stoplights on some side streets to allow more green-light time.

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The Department of Transportation's Press Release

HONOLULU – The state Department of Transportation (DOT), Highways Division, announced the H-1 Freeway Rehabilitation Project in a news conference earlier today. The project will include the rehabilitation and resurfacing of the H-1 Freeway pavement across all lanes, upgrades of highway lighting, modifications of highway drainage and pavement markings, glare screen improvements and restriping improvements to add an additional lane in each direction.

Construction is anticipated to begin in September of 2013 and take one calendar year to complete. Work will be done during nighttime hours from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sunday nights through Friday mornings and will require up to 120 nights of full freeway closures in one direction at a time as well as partial lane closures in both directions in order to complete the work as quickly and safely as possible.

“The end goal is to improve our quality of life by providing roads with a smooth riding surface that will last for years to come,” said DOT Director Glenn Okimoto. “There will be traffic delays and disruptions for all of us. Unfortunately there is no good time to do this work, and yet, it must be done.”

The last major resurfacing of this section was completed in the late 1990s, during which a 1.5-to-2-inch layer of asphalt concrete was laid over the existing pavement.

The upcoming rehabilitation will go to greater depths than a top-layer resurfacing for better and longer-lasting results. Construction crews will remove and replace up to 12-inches of asphaltic concrete in the most badly deteriorated sections.

Highway lighting will also be replaced to modern standards using cut-off lenses and the Nuuanu Stream Bridge will also be widened by approximately five feet on the Makai-side.

A dedicated project website and phone hotline will be implemented before construction begins to provide motorists with up-to-date information.

More details will be posted at the DOT’s website at hidot.hawaii.gov as they become available. For real-time traffic information, motorists can also visit the DOT GoAkamai.org traveler information website.

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