Construction underway on new Joint Traffic Management Center in Honolulu

The city is making progress on its new Joint Traffic Management Center, and on Friday, we got our first look inside.

Ground was broken back in April 2015 on a three-story facility at the mauka corner of King and Alapai streets, next to the Alapai Transit Center.

Once complete, the center will allow Honolulu police and fire departments, Emergency Medical Services, Ocean Safety, transit operations for TheBus and rail, and state and city traffic management centers to share one operations floor.

The center will also house the city’s 911 emergency call center.

“When we have an incident, a large-scale traffic incident in the city, that allows everyone to come together and be on the same floor,” explained Transportation Services Deputy Director Jon Nouchi. “All of the relevant supervisors, all the managers that control traffic and manage traffic in the city, will be literally within an arm’s reach of each other, and we’ll see some of the resources on the floor that have been designed specifically for that coordination.”

“During an event like a tsunami or a hurricane, the (city’s Emergency Operations Center) will be up and operating and we’ll be down in the Frank Fasi building basement, but this facility will ramp up too, so that traffic is being coordinated,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “If people have to evacuate out of Waikiki, we can make sure they get out in a coordinated fashion both on county roads and state roads. If we’re concerned about the airport with a tsunami, traffic moving in and out will be managed through this facility working with the EOC, but you’ll see a lot more activity occurring during those types of events here on this floor.”

The center won’t just be used in times of emergency. It will be in continuous operation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as officials work to optimize all modes of transportation.

“We can actively adjust the timing of the lights to keep the traffic flowing in a coordinated manner,” said Ty Fukumitsu, Transportation Services Chief of Traffic Signals and Technology Division. “As you know traffic on Oahu is very sensitive. When we close one road, it doesn’t matter what road, if we close one road, it affects 20 to 30 other roadways. By having this joint center together, if we know what roads are going to be closed and what’s the plan to divert the traffic during the closure, we can instead of waiting for the traffic to pile up, we can pre-adjust the signal timing in anticipation of the traffic and in anticipation of the road closure.”

The $53.6 million center is being built with $37.8 million in federal funding. The remainder, $15.8 million, is being covered by the city.

The building’s construction is expected to be completed in the fall, but officials say it will take another year to build out and install the technology.

A grand opening is expected in late 2018.

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