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Karsten Thot Bridge closed to traffic until tomorrow

By Star-Advertiser & Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:39 a.m. HST, Sep 19, 2012

The state opened the Honolulu-bound lane of Karsten Thot Bridge in Wahiawa today from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. as part of what, for now, will be a new weekday routine for some commuters. 

The change came after two days of frustrating traffic tie-ups for residents of Central Oahu and the North Shore.

While traffic around the Karsten Thot Bridge in Wahiawa did not come to a standstill Tuesday morning, it was still slow-moving.  

According to Caroline Sluyter, spokeswoman of the Department of Transportation, traffic control by police officers as well as modifications made by Schofield Barracks helped alleviate congestion. 

Repairs to the bridge began Monday, snarling traffic on Kamehameha Highway between Kilani Avenue and Whitmore Village.

Meantime, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday morning it may be necessary to build a new bridge connecting Wahiawa and the North Shore.

“Contractors and state workers are working around the clock on Karsten Thot Bridge,” Abercrombie said in a written statement. “While it is an inconvenience for those who travel in the area, we are working as best and as fast as we can, but ultimately we must ensure the safety of the public. This isn’t just about the repair and maintenance of an 80-year-old bridge. We are considering our options for the long-term and that may include the possibility of buildling a new bridge if that is deemed the best solution.”

Transporation Director Glenn Okimoto said no decision has been made to replace the bridge. 

Cost to construct a new bridge is estimated at $10 to $20 million.

The state Department of Transportation says the steel bridge has environmental and age-related damage.

The state is paying $4.5 million to repair and replace rivets and steel beams that have become rusted and worn-out. 

The work is expected to take six weeks.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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