KITV4: DOT to Close One Lane on Farrington Hwy After Fatal Collision

“DOT to close one lane near Maipalaoa Bridge on Farrington Highway after fatal car collision”
By Annalisa Burgos, Monday, 27 Jan. 2020, 6:39 PM HST

Ma’ipalaoa Bridge on Farrington Highway is one of the major lifelines for Waianae Coast residents. Considered old and dilapidated, it’s being replaced.

But the lane changes made to accommodate construction workers are being partially blamed in a fatal car collision this weekend.

Two Waianae residents — 61-year-old Richard Takayama Jr., and 40-year-old Brandie Navarro — died after a pickup truck hit a concrete barrier, veered into their lane and crashed into them head on. The driver of the truck was hospitalized in critical condition. 

Crews have been working on the bridge since last August to rebuild the structure. The highway’s four lanes were narrowed and shifted and concrete barriers were installed to protect road workers.

The DOT says they’ve replaced at least 30 lane delineators and have seen tire marks on barriers — proof that drivers are speeding in the construction zone.

Traffic officials say speed may have been a factor in Saturday’s collision, and now the DOT is taking away an entire lane to force motorists to slow down. What was four lanes will now become three.

Senator Maile Shimabukuro says Waianae Coast residents expressed concern about the narrower, curvier lanes — but knew the bridge project was critical.

“If the bridges malfunction, people cannot get in and out of the Waianae Coast,” Shimabukuro said. “So the project that DOT is undertaking is absolutely critical for all of our survival, and it’s got it has to be done. You know, and at the same time, of course, safety is of paramount importance.”

Shimabukuro said speed bumps and reflectors are some ways the DOT uses to manage speed on Farrington Highway, but to ensure safety for traffic traversing Ma’ipalaoa Bridge during construction requires “drastic action.”

As soon as next week, only three lanes will be open and traffic contraflowed. At 5 a.m., two lanes will be open going into town, and the third for westbound traffic. After 2:30 p.m., that will be switched to accommodate commuters headed into the valley.

There’s no date set for when the fourth lane will be restored. But should the new configuration reduce the number of accidents, the DOT says we can expect it to remain until the bridge is completed in spring 2022.

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