This report was from a work-related trip I took to the Hawaiian island of Oahu at the beginning of February, 2007.

Oahu (Hawai'i) roadtrip report

As some of you know, I recently spent a few days on Oahu enroute to a ship for a work trip. I had 3 nights onboard the island and a rental car at my disposal, so did a lot of touring around. A roadtrip report from the 2 nights I had on Guam will be forthcoming. Below are some notes from my Oahu trips, generally grouped by route:

General Interstate notes:

- Hawai'i makes VERY significant use of bots dots for marking lanes on the Interstates. They also make extensive use of a solid stripe alongside the bots dots in some areas to represent where certain lane changes are not allowed....similar to what New York State does at merge/diverge points.

- Interstate speed limits ranged from 35 MPH to 60 MPH. The 35 MPH segments were on I-H3 between Exit 15 (Kaneohe Bay Dr) and its eastern end at the Marine Corps station, and also I-H1 at the eastern H1/H201 junction. Two segments were signed 60 MPH: I-H1 from Exit 1 (its western terminus) to Exit 5 (HI 76/HI 750), and I-H3 from I-H201 to just west of the Tetsuo Harano Tunnel (the main tunnel on I-H3).

I-H1 was generally 55 MPH west of its eastern junction with I-H201, and 50 MPH east of that junction, though it had a 45 MPH section near University Dr. I-H2 was basically 55 MPH throughout. I-H201 was 50 MPH throughout. I-H3 had the most variety in speed limit: 45/55 MPH near the western end, 60 MPH as mentioned above, 55 MPH through the main tunnels, 45 MPH between the tunnels and HI 63, 55 MPH between HI 63 and Exit 15, and 35 MPH at the eastern end.

- The three main Interstates used milepost-based exit numbers. It was hard to tell what I-H201's exit numbers were based on.

- During my time on Oahu I 'certified' the entire Hawai'i Interstate system (meaning that I drove each route in both directions).

I-H1 notes:

- Except for at the eastern I-H201 interchange and eastbound at Exit 5, I-H1 is at least 6 lanes (3 per direction) throughout. The segment between I-H2 and the eastern Nimitz Hwy interchange has 8 through lanes and several additional auxiliary lanes. At one point (between Pearl City/Exit 10 and I-H201), I-H1 is a considerable 11 lanes wide (5EB/6WB).

- Both directions of I-H1 at University Ave (Exit 24B) are very substandard and lack an acceleration/auxiliary lane between the loops over the bridge. This causes several people to stop at the end of the loop waiting for an opening in the right lane and caused moderate backups even outside of rush hour.

- Westbound I-H1 between Alexander St and the Pali Hwy had two reassurance shields that both had the state name AND used a hyphen between the 'H' and '1'.

- Also westbound, at Milemarker 23, there was a horizontal line in the shoulder (such as the shoulder existed at that point) right at the milemarker, with '23' painted in the shoulder at the line.

- The first indication you have that you need to be in the right lane to stay on westbound I-H1 where I-H201 splits off is at the HI 63/Likelike Hwy interchange. If you're in the left lane at this point, you have about 1/2 mile to get to the rightmost lanes.

- As has been noted in the past, a significant stretch of I-H1 has a "Zipper lane", used during the morning rush hour whereby the two innermost westbound lanes (one westbound lane from I-H2 west) are converted into an eastbound lane. The zipper lane is restricted to buses and HOV-2 (a change from before, as Oscar Voss' site references them as having been HOV-3). The lane begins just east of Walkele Stream (between Exit 5 and Exit 7) and extends to the Nimitz Hwy/HI 92 interchange towards downtown. Additional entrances to the zipper lane are provided east of Exit 7 (same location as where Exit 8A splits off), from southbound I-H2 just before it merges with I-H1, and just south of the Radford Dr overpass (just before the eastbound exit to HI 92/Hickam/Pearl Harbor).

Besides the direct tie-in to the contraflow lane on Nimitz Hwy towards downtown, there is one other exit from the Zipper lane, within the HI 92/HI 99/Hickam/Pearl interchange. This exit is for connection to the airport and ties into a left shoulder lane along eastbound I-H1 along the length of the airport viaduct, at the end of which is a left side HOV-2 exit to Nimitz Hwy towards downtown.

The Zipper Lane is under study for a possible conversion/replacement with a pair of reversible HO/T lanes. The HO/T lanes would continue into downtown along Nimitz Hwy.

- One of the overhead guide signs on westbound I-H1 for the HI 99 interchange at Exit 15B (just west of the airport viaduct) has a black square background for the HI 99 shield. Most overhead guide signs omit a black square background for Hawai'i shields.

- The inside lanes on I-H1 between the western terminus and Exit 5 appear to be newer vintage than the other lanes...suggesting this segment was originally 4 lanes and subsequently widened to 6.

- The eastbound I-H1 exit to I-H2 north is a left exit. Traffic from southbound I-H2 also merges into eastbound I-H1 on the left, with 3+3=5 (leftmost I-H1 lane and rightmost I-H2 lane merging into one lane).

I-H2 notes:

- As noted above, I-H2 was posted 55 MPH throughout.

- From I-H1 north to Exit 5/Maheula Pkwy, I-H2 is 8 lanes, with the inner lanes on both sides being HOV-2 during both morning and evening rush hours, generally 5:30-8am and 3:30-6pm.

- I-H2 quickly narrows to 4 lanes north of Exit 5, and remains 4 lanes to its terminus.

I-H3 notes:

- I-H3 leads directly into the main gate at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps station. The only end signage was a "Freeway Ends" sign. Westbound there was a large I-H3 reassurance shield marking the start of the Interstate.

- The main I-H3 tunnel was labeled the "Tetsuo Harano Tunnel". There was also a smaller tunnel (named Hospital Rock Tunnel on Oscar Voss' websie) on I-H3 on the eastern approach. Both tunnels carried a full right shoulder and about a 6-ft left shoulder throughout. The Tetsuo Harano Tunnel has crossovers on each end of the tunnel to allow 2-lane/2-way operation on one side should the other side need to be closed for a wreck/maintenance/etc etc.

- Westbound just before the Hospital Rock Tunnel was a sign saying "Explosives Prohibited In Tunnel", with a tab underneath saying "Military Exempt".

- Of the 5 interchanges on I-H3, 2 are partial interchanges, to/from the west HI 63 and Mokapu Blvd (signed HI 630, officially HI 65...see below). The HI 63 interchange only allows two movements: SB HI 63 to WB I-H3 and EB I-H3 to NB HI 63. Th Mokapu Blvd interchange is a half-diamond to/from the west. The HI 83 interchange is a 5-ramp par-clo (NB 83 to WB H3 loop).

- A mill-and-overlay was in progress in the eastbound I-H3 lanes between HI 83 and Mokapu Blvd.

I-H201 notes:

- As noted above, I-H201 is posted 50 MPH throughout, and is at least 6 lanes throughout.

- Only about 20% or so of the HI 78 shields/signs have been replaced with I-H201 shields/signs. Those I-H201 signs that do exist are along westbound I-H1 approaching the eastern H1/H201 interchange (starting at the HI 63/Likelike Hwy exit), on the ramp from northbound HI 99/Kamehameha Hwy in front of Aloha Stadium (which curiously includes both I-H201 and HI 78), two eastbound pull-through signs at the exits to Kahuapaani St (Exit 1B) and I-H3 (Exit 1C), an eastbound reassurance shield and overhead pull through sign near Exit 3, two trailblazers along Ulune St, and an overhead guide sign on the ramp from southbound Kahuapaani St. Everything else, from what I saw, was still posted as HI 78.

- Not sure if this was the case before, but I-H201 has an elongated/split diamond at Ala Kapuna and Ala Aolani/Ala Napunani.

- Exit 3 along I-H201 (at HI 7310) is nominally a diamond interchange except that it has a flyover from northbound HI 7310 to westbound I-H201.

Pali Highway (HI 61) notes:

- "Mile 0" of the Pali Highway (HI 61) is at Vineyard Blvd (HI 98).

- The I-H1 interchange at the Pali Highway (HI 61) features direct ramps from westbound I-H1 to northbound HI 61 and the reciporical direction. There is no access between I-H1 towards the east and Pali Hwy towards the south. These movements are provided by the Vineyard Blvd (HI 98) ramps a half-mile to the east.

- The first 1.25 miles or so of the Pali Highway north of I-H1 would be classified by some as a "Jersey freeway". This section is 4 lanes (2 each direction), posted at 35 MPH, and was heavily congested southbound (towards downtown) during the morning. There were interchanges (albeit substandard ones) at Pauoa Rd and Nuuanu Ave/Wyllie St.

- Between Nuuanu Ave/Wyllie St and Waokanaka St/Nuuanu Pali Dr, HI 61 is a 6-lane 35 MPH arterial with 4 or 5 traffic signals. The last signal heading northbound is at Waokanaka St/Nuuanu Pali Dr, after which HI 61 narrows to 4 lanes and is posted at 45 MPH.

- Nuuanu Pali Dr is part of the old road across the island here, going across a pass in the island ridge which now hosts a scenic overlook. Several of the bridges along Nuuanu Pali Dr were timestamped with the year 1931.

- The "northbound" climb between the two Nuuanu Pali Dr intersections has a climbing lane instead of a right shoulder.

- HI 61 slows down to 35 MPH going through the tunnels, as well as the northbound descent towards Kailua. This section features several tight curves and also a runaway truck ramp. The southbound ascent has a 45 MPH speed limit, and curiously a 40 MPH MINIMUM speed limit in the left lane.

- HI 61, as with many Hawai'i state routes, have milemarkers posted. Below the milemarker itself is a small white sign with the associated route number on it.

- END HI 61 signage is posted where the route ends in Kailua, just before the Hamakua Dr intersection.

Likelike Highway (HI 63) notes:

- The I-H1 interchange at Likelike Highway (HI 63) features direct ramps to/from the north. Except for the "through road" along HI 63 and a single NB 63 to EB H1 ramp, there is no access to/from the south. Also of note is that both ramps from I-H1 to NB 63 ramp merge onto NB 63 on the left.

- HI 63 is a 4-lane 35MPH surface boulevard from I-H1 to a junction which maps call Valley View Dr but the street sign says something different (starting with an "L" photo didn't turn out very clear). East of this intersection, HI 63 is 45 MPH until just west of the Wilson Tunnel.

- HI 63 is 35 MPH through the Wilson Tunnel and some of the eastern descent. It goes back to 45 MPH before crossing underneath I-H3.

- As noted above, the only access between I-H3 and HI 63 is between the west and north. There are auxiliary lanes along HI 63 between the I-H3 ramps and the HI 83 junction.

- The HI 63/HI 83 junction is strange in that it functions like an at-grade trumpet. As left turns are prohibited at the junction itself (those movements provided by the "trumpet ramps"), the signal is a simple two-phase signal.

Kalanianaole Highway (HI 72) notes:

- "Mile 0" for HI 72 is at HI 61. The first 2 miles or so from HI 61 are 4-lanes, but then HI 72 narrows to 2 lanes until you're close to Honolulu.

- In Waimanalo on HI 72 was a set of HI 72 reassurance shields that had the state name posted within them. This was the only set of HI state route shields I saw like such...

- Near Makapuu Point (southeastern tip of Oahu) was a stretch where HI 72 was literally hugging a cliff face.

- Also near Makapuu Point off HI 72 was a parking lot and trailhead for a trail that lead up to the Makapuu Point State Wayside, which sat above the Makapuu Lighthouse. The trail was mostly paved and about 1.5 miles one-way, albeit all uphill going up.

- A couple of the bridges on HI 72 through Koko Head Regional Park were timestamped 1931.

- Heading west, HI 72 widens to 4 lanes at Lunalilo Home Rd in Hawai'i Kai and to 6 lanes at Hawai'i Kai Dr.

- In addition to being 6 lanes, a stretch of HI 72 through eastern Honolulu also features a contraflow HOV-2 lane westbound in the morning, utilizing the innermost eastbound lane. This contraflow lane ends where HI 72 transitions into I-H1 at Ainakoa Ave. Left turns are prohibited when the contraflow lane is in operation.

Farrington Highway (HI 93) notes:

- A roughly 1 mile segment of HI 93/Farrington Hwy, from the western terminus of I-H1 west to where it rejoins old Farrington hwy, is signed at 55 MPH....the only instance I saw of a non-Interstate being signed higher than 45 MPH.

- From the west end of I-H1 northwest to the southern edge of Nanakuli, HI 93 is 4-lanes divided with a mostly 45 MPH speed limit. There is a trumpet interchange along this segment at Ko Olina.

- Within Nanakuli, HI 93 is mostly a 35 MPH 4-lane UNdivided surface street...only one intersection that I saw had left turn lanes.

Miscellaneous notes:

- Cheapest gas I saw was at $2.679 in Nanakuli (along HI 93). Most expensive gas was a couple of $3.099 stations within Honolulu.

- Several intersections in central Honolulu have dual right-turn lanes. Most of these were posted with signs saying "No Right Turn On Red Except From Right Lane After Stop". Basically, you could turn right on red from the right-most turn lane, but not from the left-most turn lane.

- From the western part of Waikiki, the signs directing drivers to westbound I-H1 were both a bit confusing and followed a very congested route. They basically direct motorusts up McCully St, across a 2-lane bridge over I-H1, then a left turn onto Dole St (since the turn onto the direct on-ramp from southbound McCully St is prohibited), then another left onto Alexander St to the access ramp. It was very congested in the morning hours.

- Some maps (and signs on I-H3) show Mokapu Blvd as HI 630. The Hawai'i DOT website, however, apparently labels it as HI 65.

- Turning onto Kaneohe Bay Dr from Mokapu Blvd, there was a blue sign saying "Start City and County Highway".

- Southbound HI 83 at HI 61, there are two right turn lanes "when coned", presumably in the weekday morning hours.

- Milepost 43 for HI 83 is right at its "eastern" terminus at HI 61.

- Most maps show Kunia Rd as HI 750. However, at the north end at HI 99, it's signed as HI 76 instead.

- A guardrail railing at the Pali Lookout was timestamped 1932, back when the Pali Highway crossed over the mountain pass and before the HI 61 tunnels were built in the mid-50s.

- Underneath the I-H1 airport viaduct, HI 92/Nimitz Hwy functions as a 6-lane surface boulevard.

- Similar to HI 72 in eastern Honolulu, HI 92/Nimitz Hwy has a contraflow lane, extending from the east end of the I-H1 Airport Viaduct eastward to where the two directions of Nimitz Hwy split just west of Pacific St. This contraflow lane is HOV-2 and runs eastbound during the morning rush and is effectively an extension of the "Zipper Lane" along I-H1. As with the HI 72 contraflow lane, left turns are prohibited during operation, with one apparent exception. The configuration of the contraflow lane at the HI 64/HI 92 junction suggests that left turns are allowed there even during contraflow operation. As with the I-H1 zipper lane, this contraflow lane is under study to possibly be replaced with a pair of reversible HO/T lanes extending into downtown.

- The Ford Island bridge was neat to drive over. It's 2 lanes with a full shoulder and is a little under a mile long. As the bridge provides direct access to a Navy facility, access is somewhat restricted and a security gate was built into the eastern end of the bridge. Past the west end of the bridge near the Navy Lodge is a roundabout.

- The southbound Kamehameha Hwy/HI 99 bridge over Halawa stream, just south of the entrance to the Arizona Memorial parking lot, is being replaced. A temporary bridge similar to what's being used on the westbound I-10 "Twin Span" over Lake Pontchartrain was in place for southbound traffic.

- Most airport access road signage across the country is white lettering on blue background. Access road signage at Honolulu International is black lettering on a florescent yellow background.

- HI 76 has an interchange at Farrington Hwy (signed as HI 7101 to the east and HI 7100 to the west) that curiously included exit numbers. The interchange is a 5-ramp par-clo with a SB 76 to EB 7101 loop. The SB 76 to WB 7100 ramp was signed as Exit 6A, while the loop was signed as Exit 5. The single northbound exit was also signed as Exit 5. The different numbers might be explained by Milepost 6 being just north of the underpass, but that doesn't explain why they used "6A" and not just "6".

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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig