State responds after H-1 diesel spill triggered westbound gridlock

H-1 at Lehua
H-1 at Lehua
H-1 at Kaonohi
H-1 at Kaonohi
H-1 at Vineyard
H-1 at Vineyard
H-1 at Kaahumanu
H-1 at Kaahumanu

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The state Department of Transportation says a diesel spill that caused westbound gridlock on the H-1 Freeway Tuesday afternoon had nothing to do with ongoing road work.

Spokesman Tim Sakahara said the spill was reported just before noon near Lehua Avenue.

Several lanes of the freeway were blocked off most of the afternoon for cleanup, with crews moving off the road shortly after 4 p.m.

The closures triggered backups on both the H-1 and Moanalua Freeway, prompting the state to open the HOV lane to all westbound vehicles.

Sakahara said the spill just happened to be in the area where state crews are widening the Pearl City viaduct.

“(The contractor was) kind enough to allow the cleanup crews to use the cones that were already set up there, so instead of a two-lane closure, it turned into a three-lane, just adding one additional lane,” he said. “They were able to move the cones over faster so the other cars weren’t driving over the substance and who knows if they would skid out and maybe caused an accident and two, it actually sped up the process so they didn’t have to bring out their own cones.”

Sakahara said cleanup took longer than expected.

“When we first got the initial call late that morning, it didn’t sound like something that was going to bleed into the evening commute hours,” he said.

Westbound traffic remained heavy through the evening.

The cause of the spill remains under investigation.

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