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Around Oahu > Articles & Specials > Zipper Lane > Page 2 (Page1)

The Zipper Lane

Contraflow to the next level (cont.)


Not only will the Zipper Lane decrease traffic congestion in the morning rush hours but it will also reward those who choose to carpool or ride the bus into work by allowing them a much speedier route to their destination. Traffic engineers even estimate that those who enter the Zipper Lane by the Managers Drive Overpass will reduce their travel time by about 25 minutes. And there's more. Express busses using the contraflow lane will reach their destination earlier, possibly allowing them to make two or even three trips into town during the morning rush hour. And traffic in the HOV lane, which will remain, should move more quickly since many of the vehicles currently using this lane will be diverted into the Zipper Lane.

Oh sure, this is a wonderful invention, but, like everything in the Aloha State, how expensive is it going to be? Not as expensive as you might think. As an alternative to expensive freeway and construction, which typically cost tens of millions of dollars, the equipment and improvements required to put the Zipper Lane into effect will only cost around $16 million dollars.

But the Zipper Lane will not benefit everyone. Cheaters beware. Because the Zipper Lane has a shoulder, police will now be able to pull over violators to issue citations. It will also create and area near the Pearl Harbor Exchange where police can pull over HOV violators.


Sounds complicated. How can I use the Zipper Lane? Glad you asked. It's simple. There are three locations at which carpools, buses, and vanpools will be able to enter the zipper lane (see map). If you happen to travel to Honolulu from Waipio or westward, you can enter the contraflow lane where it begins, near the Managers Drive Overpass on H-1, before Waikele. For those of you who live in Waikele and Waipahu, you can enter on the Honolulu side of Paiwa Street in front of Waikele Shopping Center. And the last entrance is located at the junction of H-1 and H-2, where those who commute from central Oahu can crossover into the Zipper Lane.

"Ahhh!", you say, I hate merging on the freeway. Have no fear, those entering the Zipper Lane at Waikele or H-2 will using onramps designed to enable vehicles to merge safely with traffic in the contraflow lane (see diagram to the right). But once you get on, there's no return. You will not be able to return to regular Honolulu-bound traffic until the Zipper Lane ends at the Pearl Harbor interchange, right before the H-1 Airport Viaduct. After the Zipper Lane ends, the HOV lane will continues as the inside shoulder lane next to the median on the Honolulu-bound side of the H-1 Viaduct (see diagrams below). This lane will still be restricted to vehicles with 3 or more occupants. And this configuration continues until the Keehi Interchange and the end of the viaduct, there, vanpools and carpools have 3 choices. First, they may exit using the HOV ramp to Nimitz Highway. They can also merge with traffic going to Dillingham Boulevard. And finally, they may continue on H-1 and merge with Moanalua Freeway traffic at Middle Street.

The Department of Transportation predicts that eventually with the development of Kapolei, the number of people working west of Pearl Harbor will increase, thus balancing the traffic flow each morning. At that time the Zipper Lane can be dismantled and moved elsewhere. But until that day comes, traffic will continue to be horrendous for Honolulu-bound commuters. Hopefully, this new invention will help to make your drive to town just a little bit easier. Drive safely.


Images Courtesy of the
Honolulu Department of Transportation
and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation