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DOT working to improve traffic

by Shauree Garth-Kurch, staff writer

 

Unless they work banker’s hours, drivers from Leeward and central O’ahu are sitting in traffic longer and longer every year. With the development of new homes in Kapolei, Mililani, and Ewa Beach, more motorists than ever are on the road, roughly 225,000 people per day, said Scott Ishikawa, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. Ishikawa added that this number will increase to 280,000 per day in 20 years.

 

Ishikawa said that the DOT has made a number of short term solutions and is working on more. For example, the zipper lane, which is used by about 5,000 cars daily, has provided some relief.
Other short term measures to improve rush hour traffic flow are already in place. A contra-flow lane on Nimitz Highway has sped up morning traffic. Widening the H-1 is expected to relieve the H-1/H-2 “double bottle- neck” that slows Ewa-bound traffic in the afternoon.

Other plans that have not begun include widening Fort Weaver Road, Ishikawa said, and building a north-south road out of Ewa.

Motorists have few alternatives to driving their personal vehicles: riding The Bus, which takes more than an hour; the city-run van pool; or car pooling. Long term solutions, Ishikawa said, are going to be very expensive, and they are going to take time.

Building a light rail system, for example, would take up to 10 years to complete--after legislation is passed and the governor releases funds.

A factor that the DOT and the community must consider is the impact that building new roads or a light rail system will have on the environment and the community itself. For example, the city had to purchase the homes of some Aiea-Pearl City residents in the area before the H-1 widening project could continue.

The feelings of the Hawaiian community must be considered also. Protests from them over the disturbance of newly discovered ancient burial grounds have interrupted many construction projects in recent years.

Some other long term ideas that have been proposed are building an H-4 freeway, which would cost half a billion dollars and which would run from Kunia Road through the Waianae mountain range to Makaha. Ishikawa said a “back-door road” from Nanakuli is also being considered, so residents in that area can get out if there is an emergency situation that blocks the existing road.

 

 

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