DOT to widen, restripe H-1 near Pearl City

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For months, Ewabound drivers on the H-1 had to endure multiple lane closures at night. Now, those heading into town are fighting that same battle.

Ironically, it’s part of a project to help ease one of the worst areas of the evening commute. By adding a contraflow lane in the Ewabound direction. The $82 million project will be completed next fall. But the work we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the traffic iceberg.

We’ve learned another stretch of the H-1 will be widened. And that’s not all. There are more restriping plans.

It’s no secret.

“Getting stuck in that traffic is ridiculous,” said Miki Arasato, driver.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Christy Cabral, driver.

“During the afternoon it’s really bad,” said Sheila Arasato, driver.

So the state hopes widening the H-1 Freeway in the Ewabound direction, will help. This time, the Department of Transportation will add an exit only lane into Waipahu. It’s part of the PM contraflow project, which will also create an extra Ewabound lane near Radford to the H-1/H-2 split.

“So we do have to demolish the concrete and basically rebuild sections of the freeway overnight,” said Caroline Sluyter, DOT spokesperson.

It’s that prep work that’s hit drivers with lane closures on the freeway at night, and on some Sundays.

“Being stuck for an hour and a half in traffic isn’t very pleasant and with gas prices and AC, you get hit all around,” Cabral said.

The state says, it’s trying to help. And hopes to tackle the congestion in another way too. Next year, it will restripe the H-1, and add another exit lane into the Pearl City/Waimalu area. So there will be two, exit only lanes.

The DOT says it’s received mostly positive reviews for its restriping projects. Last year, the state added lanes on the H-1 in town, and on Moanalua Freeway, heading into the Aiea/Pearlridge area. But drivers we talked to, remain skeptical.

“I think if they make an extra lane, more people are just going to drive more and it’s going to get more crowded. I don’t think it’s really going to help,” Miki Arasato said.

“In the end we don’t really know if it’s going to help the traffic, so it’s just making matters worse,” Sheila Arasato said.

The widening, restriping and afternoon contraflow project are all expected to be completed by the fall of next year.

The state does not know when the actual widening will start but promises to keep the community in the loop. They do know that this entire $82 million project will shave about 20 minutes off the evening commute.

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