Karsten Thot Bridge Reopens As Work Continues

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Good news for commuters who use Karsten Thot Bridge. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) informed us that as of Oct. 19, the bridge will open to traffic going both directions. Everyone is asked, however, to heed the speed limit of 15 miles per hour on the bridge from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily as work continues under the bridge.

It was possible to open the bridge because the structural repairs were completed and inspected. Sometime next year, the top of the bridge will be repainted to prevent corrosion, and it is anticipated that the work will be done during evenings and/or weekends.

Many questions were raised as to why the bridge had to be closed while work was going on. DOT attempted to restrict traffic to passenger vehicles and emergency vehicles in keeping within the 10-ton limit for safety, but this was not being complied with and was difficult to enforce. Therefore, the bridge had to be closed for the safety of crews working beneath it.

My office was in continued communication with DOT and the department did its best to address the concerns we communicated to them. DOT implemented various measures and sought solutions such as increasing police presence and increasing the hours they were at the different locations, and opening one lane on the bridge in the morning and afternoon even though it was thought that this may prolong the work. DOT also worked with the U.S. Army Garrison at Schofield Barracks to coordinate their traffic by controlling the opening and closing and traffic flow at their different gates.

At times, the problems and inconveniences spread throughout the surrounding areas, such as what was experienced by motorists trying to exit Whitmore Village in the afternoon where traffic was backed on Whitmore Avenue for several hours when school and workers from Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station got out.

DOT immediately acted on our request for help in relieving this situation by stationing police at the intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Whit-more Avenue in the afternoon. Reports from Whit-more residents the following day indicated that the backup was gone.

I realize that we had some trying times as commuters waited hours in traffic and were late to work or school in the beginning. We received a number of complaints, but those who were aware of the ongoing efforts to improve the conditions were understanding of the situation although they were distressed by it.

It didn’t make the depart-ment’s work any easier when we had unfortunate occurrences such as 15 of the variable message boards – informing motorists of the detour they need to take – being vandalized since the initial phases of the work.

I appreciate the depart-ment’s timely responses to the numerous concerns we forwarded to them and in working with us in trying to mitigate the problems and address the concerns. Throughout this ordeal, they kept us updated on the various measures and work they were doing, which enabled us to inform those who had concerns. Mahalo to the department and everyone who endured the inconveniences.

For further information, any concerns or questions, call state Sen. Dela Cruz, D-District 22 (KaenaWahiawa-Pupukea) at 586-6090 or email him at sendelacruz@capitol.hawa ii.gov.