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State to close Piikoi onramp to H-1 for afternoon traffic

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    The Piikoi St. onramp can be seen in the background as cars travel Koko Head-bound on the H-1 freeway in 2012. The onramp will be closed from 3 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays for six months starting on July 30.

The Piikoi Street onramp to the eastbound H-1 freeway will be closed from 3 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays for a six-month trial following the completion of a study, state officials said today. The closure is scheduled to begin July 30.

A study by the Hawaii Department of Transportation found closing the onramp during peak afternoon hours would help the flow of traffic, increase capacity and reduce travel times on the H-1 freeway while having a minimal impact on side street operations.

“This trial period is part of my administration’s continuing effort to seek new and innovative ways to relieve traffic congestion on our freeway,” Gov. David Ige said in a news release. “A previous study indicates the peak hour closures will reduce travel time for our families. This is an example of my administration is thinking outside the box, while working within our existing highways infrastructure.”

Signs will be posted to notify motorists of the scheduled changes. Upon the conclusion of the six-month trial, HDOT will determine if the program will continue or be modified.

As part of the earlier study, HDOT temporarily closed the Piikoi Street eastbound onramp 24 hours a day from April 17 through April 28 to study traffic impacts. It examined whether much of the congestion and queuing experienced by motorists on the eastbound H-1 was a result of the heavy on and offramp volumes, frequent lane merges and weaving between the South Vineyard Boulevard, Ward Avenue and Piikoi Street onramps and the Punahou Street offramp.

Data showed the travel time reduction during the peak afternoon hour saved drivers six minutes when traveling through the area between the Fort Shafter overpass and the Punahou Street offramp.

During the morning peak hour of traffic, one minute was saved.

HDOT director Jade Butay said closing the onramp would save commuters valuable time in the afternoon, but not enough to justify a closure during morning hours.

“We will continue to monitor the traffic conditions and adjust as needed if it will help overall efficiency for commuters,” he said.

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