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Busy H-1 eastbound stretch to close two nights

    2013 Sept 9 CTY - (L-R) Glenn Okimoto, Director of HI Department of Transportation held a press conference along with Mike Formby, Honolulu Deputy Dir. of Transportration and Jadine Urasaki, HI DOT, at DOT on Monday announcing the start of a one year long H-1 Rehabilitation project starting Sept. 22 with two nights of full highway closures between Likelike Highway and Ward Avenue. Honolulu Star-Advertiser Photo by Krystle Marcellus

The H-1 freeway eastbound from the Likelike Highway to Ward Avenue will be completely closed from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. for two nights later this month, state traffic officials say.

The Department of Transportation this morning announced the closures for Sunday, Sept. 22 and Monday, Sept. 23.

The move will launch a year-long freeway construction project through town that will extend late into the night the H-1 congestion that commuters already endure there during the day.

“We will be causing a little disruption, but we need this work badly,” Hawaii DOT Director Glenn Okimoto said. 

The “H1 Rehabilitation Project” is an effort to fix and repave a 3.5-mile stretch of the state’s most heavily used highway between Ward Avenue and Middle Street.

It allows construction crews to shut down the highway in one direction at a time for up to 120 nights throughout the project, which state officials say they hope to wrap by the end of July 2014. The two full closures later this month are the only ones scheduled for the remainder of 2013, they add.

For the upcoming overnight eastbound full closures, Okimoto urged H-1 drivers to avoid the area entirely at that time if possible. Otherwise, they should exit Dillingham Boulevard or Nimitz Highway. Drivers on the Moanalua freeway (H201) should exit at Puuloa Road and then use Dillingham or Nimitz as alternate routes.

After those two full closures, commuters can expect nightly lane closures on the H-1 between Middle Street and the Ward Avenue area throughout the project.  Typically one lane will close in each direction starting 9 p.m., with an additional lane will closing 11 p.m.

However, for Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 those nightly closures will be eastbound only, DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said.

Local traffic officials are encouraging drivers to use School, King and Beretania Streets, as well as Vineyard, Ala Moana and Dillingham Boulevards as alternate routes to travel in the Ewa and Diamond Head directions during the night.

The city’s Department of Transportation Services will work with the state to extend green light signal times where possible on those alternate routes, DTS Director Mike Formby said Monday. DTS also plans to have traffic engineers working at Honolulu’s traffic management center at night, when they normally wouldn’t be there, he added.

“There’s a lot of congestion on the alternate routes but we do the best we can,” Formby said.  “We’re going to do our best — that’s all I can commit at this time.”

The work in town coincides with H-1 traffic further west from the ongoing “PM Contraflow” project — highway deck repairs in the Aiea and Pearl City areas that have commuters facing lane closures there from 7:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.  That schedule is expected to last through April. 

The in-town rehabilitation project will repave an asphalt-concrete layer about 12 inches deep along that H1 stretch — a material that’s stronger than typical asphalt and designed to last 10-15 years, instead of 7 to 10 years, to better handle the 200,000 vehicles that use the corridor each day.

The $42 million project, paid for mostly with federal dollars, will also reconfigure H-1 to have four lanes in both directions from Punahou Street to Middle Street. It will further replace existing highway lights with modern models that better contain the light to the highway and are more environmentally friendly for migrating birds, officials said.

The state DOT has set up a website, and a hotline (808) 735-7465, where local drivers can learn more about the project and its construction schedule.

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