HOV lanes to remain open half-hour more for Oahu commuters

It’s a long commute into town from the west side of Oahu every weekday morning, but rush hour traffic may see some relief starting Monday morning.

“Oh my gosh, forever,” replied Ewa Beach resident Terry Kim when asked how long her daily average commute time into town is. She leaves her Ewa Beach home at 4:30 every weekday morning in order to beat traffic as part of her commute to Waikiki.

“You gotta give that leeway also,” Kim explained. “There might be an accident or stalled car. I put that into consideration so I don’t get late for work. I do sleep and park in the car when I get to work. I sleep for an hour.”

Wahiawa resident Romulo Melendrez said he and his wife carpool into work. “I used to ride alone. Now it’s a lot easier, not as bad. But the traffic is still bad.”

But with the opening of HOV lanes to be extended for 30 more minutes starting Monday — from 5:30 a.m. to now 9 a.m. — motorists will hopefully feel a difference in their commute.

The following routes will be affected:

  • H-1 Freeway eastbound (HOV, Waiawa Interchange to Keehi Interchange)
  • H-1 Freeway eastbound (zip lane, Managers Drive overpass to Keehi Interchange)
  • H-1 Freeway eastbound (shoulder lane express – extension of contraflow express lane/zip lane, Pearl Harbor Interchage to Keehi Interchange)
  • Nimitz Highway eastbound (HOV and contraflow, Keehi Interchange to Industrial Parkway)
  • H-2 Freeway southbound (HOV, Mililani Interchange to Waiawa Interchange)

The state Dept. of Transportation’s goal is to encourage more riders to carpool.

But is it convincing enough to commuters? “That’s good, but I don’t know,” said Kim. “We gotta see how it works, right? Like everything.” Melendez said “Well, we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’re trying something. I don’t know if it’s going to work.”

The DOT has other plans in the works, like a Farrington Highway westbound contraflow in Nanakuli during the morning and afternoon commutes in order to quickly respond to disabled vehicles, a tow truck station on Farrington Highway in Nanakuli, and zip lane widening in the morning, like on the H-1 Freeway eastbound shoulder lane from Kualakai Parkway to Kunia Road.

The state also wants to install traffic cameras in Leeward Oahu to monitor traffic flow.

The traffic improvement changes are part of Governor Ige’s commitment to reduce traffic congestion.

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