H-1 Freeway PM contraflow project stalled

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It was touted as a way to relieve traffic congestion during evening rush hour, but now the state is thinking about not finishing it.

The $82 million PM contraflow project on the H-1 Freeway is up in the air and the state isn’t saying why.

Even lawmakers are scratching their heads.

The state Department of Transportation broke ground on the project more than a year ago.

Now the state says it is “being reevaluated.”

Lawmakers and other state officials gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony in June of last year for the PM Contraflow Project, which would create a ZipperLane for westbound drivers in the afternoon.

It would work the same way as the morning ZipperLane as it would be open to cars with at least three people. It would stretch seven miles from the Radford Overpass to Waikele.

“The AM zipper lane is very successful and we expect that the PM zipper lane will be just as successful as alleviating traffic for the commuters,” state Sen. Will Espero said.

Since the groundbreaking, there have been delays on the freeway at nights as improvements are done for the contraflow project.

Experts estimate that has cost taxpayers several millions of dollars.

“Surface work is being done now and we know that so quite a few dozen million dollars has been expended in improving that part already yes,” University of Hawaii civil engineering professor Panos Prevedouros said.

Prevedouros worked on the study showing the benefits of the PM ZipperLane. He says computer simulations show it would improved the capacity of the freeway by 15 percent, which he says is a big improvement.

“Every time during congestive conditions, if you improve by 15 percent the amount of cars, the travel time drops dramatically by perhaps 25 to 30 percent,”Prevedouros said.

Lawmakers say the PM ZipperLane has been in the works for over 10 years and residents had been told it would be done by next year.

“And so a lot of us are kind of scratching our heads and saying, ‘Okay, now it’s not the solution. So what is the solution?’ And we’re waiting for those answers,” Honolulu City Councilmember Kymberly Pine said.

State Department of Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto released a statement saying the state is looking at alternate designs and working with the federal highways administration to make improvements and the keep the project on budget.

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