Drivers question low height, clearance of rail’s cantilever

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As Honolulu’s rail project gets ready to cross over the freeway again, some drivers are questioning if it’s just too low.

The columns are already up on both sides of the H-1 Freeway and highway in Pearl City.

Work to connect the two columns, what officials call the balanced cantilever, will continue for the rest of the year.

KHON2 found out that during construction, there will be a low clearance of 14 feet 2 inches in the right lane of the H-1 Freeway heading into town.

“It actually limits our ability especially when we gotta maneuver equipment, containers in those areas,” said Clarence Luke, a driver and instructor with West Coast Hauling.

“I think about some of the incidents we’ve had in the past,” said Cy Arakaki, also a driver and instructor with West Coast Hauling.

Three months ago, a truck was heading town-bound on the H-1 when the crane it was hauling clipped the bottom of the Gulick Avenue overpass, causing concrete to fall on the freeway. No one was injured, but the incident snarled traffic for hours.

Rail officials say when the second cantilever in Pearl City is done, the minimum clearance will be 18 feet 3 inches. But during construction later this year, it will be 14 feet 2 inches.

Compare that to the Gulick Avenue overpass, which is 14 feet 3 inches.

“Your equipment and you’re not aware of that height, you could potentially have some devastating effects,” Arakaki said, “and that causing, creating I should say, a lot of traffic, a lot of headaches.”

Rail officials say their contractor will give advance notice and warning about the height clearance, but didn’t say exactly when or how.

“There’s a few of the construction companies that haul the large equipment, perhaps letting them know personally,” Arakaki said.

There will be netting under the cantilever while it’s under construction to protect drivers below on the H-1. That’s what crews did to the cantilever near the H-1, H-2 merge, after some drivers complained to KHON2 of debris falling onto their cars.

There will be multiple lane closures on the H-1 when crews work on the cantilever.

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