Tow truck used to close ZipperLane after ZipMobile disabled by fire

For the second time in less than two months, the ZipMobile has broken.

State crews used a tow truck to finish closing the ZipperLane Wednesday afternoon after problems with the ZipMobile.

The state Department of Transportation said it suffered a small electrical fire in the vehicle’s engine that temporarily disabled its drive functions near the airport off-ramp.

The barrier remained deployed on the H-1 Freeway in the westbound direction until a tow truck arrived to tow the ZipMobile for the remaining mile stretch to Nimitz Highway.

The ZipperLane was completely closed at 2 p.m. and the ZipMobile towed back to the Zipper Hale maintenance facility on the Airport Viaduct for repairs.

Officials said the backup ZipMobile is functioning and will be used for normal operations Thursday.

No traffic issues were reported as a result, but you can always check KHON2’s Interactive Traffic Map for the latest conditions.

The state confirms this is the same ZipMobile that broke down in March, causing a two-day traffic nightmare.

Back then, we asked the state if it was time to buy a new ZipMobile. On Wednesday, we posed the question again.

Transportation officials say they’re looking to get new ones, but there is no set date on when that would happen and, as of right now, no funds to do so.

“In a perfect world, we’d love to have pristine ZipMobiles that are brand new, of course, but we realize there are budget constraints and other factors involved in dealing with machinery like this and there’s a lot of issues that need to be taking place and considered budgetary-wise,” said DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara. “If we get the funding, because they are expensive vehicles, we’re not going to buy two at one time. We would stagger it and buy maybe one now, one at the time, and keep one older one or used one as the backup.”

Transportation officials said the department received more than $970,000 to be used in the next two years. That money will go toward maintenance and parts.

Some lawmakers say things need to happen soon before we face another nightmare situation like we saw in March.

“When ZipMobiles break down, it really shows how fragile our transportation infrastructure is,” said Rep. Matthew LoPresti, D, Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe, West Loch. “So it’s not really an option to replace these. It’s something that has to be done and the question is, is that something that will be done next year? Or is it going to happen in a couple of years? As we see, these things are breaking down more and that’s a concern and I think everybody knows that.”

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