State anticipates opening of second Zipper Lane next week

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There’s a big change coming to the H-1 Freeway’s Zipper Lane.

There will soon be two lanes instead of one.

It cost the state about $1.5 million to do that, but transportation officials say it will help ease traffic.

Crews have been working overnight for several weeks striping the freeway, and work is on track to wrap up by the end of the month, just in time for the back-to-school jam.

Oahu commuters are looking forward to some relief during the morning rush heading into town.

“I kind of like it. It will speed up the traffic and you’ll get there faster,” said Kalihi resident Al Castillo.

The Zipper Lane will still only be used during the morning commute, and you have to have two or more people in your car to use it.

Some drivers told me they were tired of the traffic, so they changed their lifestyle to avoid it.

“It’s absolutely hard to live with,” said downtown resident Scott Curton. “It’s one of those things where it becomes very frustrating. I actually lived in Ewa for 15 years and moved downtown to avoid that traffic.”

The state Department of Transportation anticipates an extra Zipper Lane will add 20-percent more volume in an effort to alleviate the morning traffic.

“So here’s the big adjustment that people are going to have to get used to with the two lanes: the people in the left lane, once they get into the Pearl Harbor area, will continue on the Zipper Lane to Nimitz Highway,” explained DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara. “The people in the right lane, those folks will actually have to exit the Zipper Lane at that area near Pearl Harbor, and they’re going to be going to the single-lane capacity lanes on the H-1 and then they’ll have the option of going to the airport, Dillingham Boulevard, Nimitz Highway, or staying on the H-1 toward the Middle Street merge.”

In some areas, the Zipper Lane was widened, but in other areas, some of the shoulder on the H-1 westbound was used.

But the number of lanes will not be impacted.

The DOT opened up a brand new lane on the H-1 westbound in Pearl City, and extended hours for the use of the shoulder lane in Aiea.

On Friday and Saturday night, the Zipper Lane barrier will be deployed, closing two left lanes on the H-1 Freeway westbound from 9 p.m.-9 a.m. from Zip Hale to the Radford Drive overpass for widening work, weather-permitting.

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