Bill to fix ventilation fans in H-3 tunnels will reach $25 million

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A critical part of the H-3 freeway needs to undergo repairs.

It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fix the ventilation fans in the H-3 tunnels.

The plan is to eventually replace all 32 fans over the next few years. Why did the state Department of Transportation wait so long to fix them all especially since half were not working properly?

With more than 20 years under their belt the ventilation fans in the H3 freeway tunnels are in need of some upgrades.

“They weren’t necessarily working like they did when they were brand new so some of them have been in need of repairs and replacements,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.

It’s been more than a year since KHON2 found out that half of the 32 fans were not working properly.

So far seven fans have been refurbished, two more will be done in the next couple of months, and work on four others will start soon, but 23 still need work and that will cost about $25 million.

“By the end of next year all 32 of the fans that are up there in the H3 tunnels will be fixed and working good as new,” said Sakahara.

Each fan will cost about a million dollars to refurbish. With so many of them having problems why were they not taken care of earlier?

“The original parts manufacturer that we were going through actually went out of business,” said Sakahara. Funding has also been an issue up until now.

So how crucial are ventilation fans in tunnels like the H3?

“It is very important,” said University of Hawaii engineering professor, Panos Prevedouros. “It is actually critical because we are dealing with traffic and traffic sometimes can have hazardous materials and some of the accidents can cause fumes or fires.”

As for the H3, the Department of Transportation says there are enough fans working that there is no threat to drivers.

“All the fans do not need to be on at any given time in fact sometimes only a few of the fans are on because there is enough tradewinds and there are no fumes”.

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