Freeway closures planned as rail guideway work begins in Pearl City

View of the H-1 Freeway from Ala Ike Street in Pearl City.

For months, motorists have had to deal with the mess along Kamehameha Highway, the corridor that runs through Aiea and Pearl City.

Lane closures triggered traffic jams while crews do the work that is necessary to pave the way for the elevated rail project.

The same has been happening on Farrington Highway through Waipahu. Along these corridors, businesses and drives have been affected.

But here’s the break that will bring some holiday cheer.

“We will not have be having any construction activity on Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Saturday and Sunday,” said Dan Grabauskas, executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).

KHON2 broke that news to Shawn Troup, operations manager for Best Buy in Aiea. “Fantastic, man, I was really sweating it,” he said. “It’s congested enough already, so now people will have easy access in and out of here.”

The construction work for rail is welcome news for those who drive along Kamehameha Highway through Aiea and Pearl City. That same holiday break applies to those who drive along Farrington Higthway through Waipahu.

But come the first week of December, look out for lane closures at the H-1/H-2 merge. That’s when construction of Honolulu’s elevated rail line crossing over the H-1 Freeway from Waipahu to Pearl City will begin.

It’s the first dramatic feature people will see for this segment of the project.

“The guideway will grow from the center out to the ends and eventually join with the column on this side of the roadway and the column on the other side of the roadway,” explained Grabauskas.

Work to build the elevated rail guideway over the H-1 near Leeward Community College will require freeway lane closures at night directly underneath the work to allow crews to safely construct this section of guideway.

To reduce impacts to the traveling public, H-1 lane closures related to the rail work will be conducted only at night between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. the following morning. Up to a combined four freeway lanes may be closed during those hours of work.

The nightly freeway lane closures are expected to run approximately one year. HART promises that there will never be a time when the H-1 Freeway will be completely closed in either direction.

For the first two weeks of December, contractor Kiewit is scheduled to close two south-bound lanes of the H-2 Freeway overnight near the H-1/H-2 merge from Sundays through Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. the following morning.

Rail work in December along the H-1 will be conducted generally in the east-bound direction, with west-bound lane closures expected to commence in the new year.

HART is asking motorists to be mindful of construction crews stationed along the freeway during the work. For the safety of both the work crews and motorists, the public is advised to proceed with caution through the construction area.

As Grabauskas said, “Please drive through with caution. Our motto is look ahead, not overhead.”

For the latest updates on lane closure nights and times, click here.

Rendering of the finished guideway provided by HART.
Rendering of the finished guideway provided by HART.

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