HDOT NEWS RELEASE: HDOT to complete assessments and repair plans for Wilson Tunnel by Oct.2

Posted on Oct 1, 2015 in Latest News, Newsroom, Press Releases

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) continues to perform structural assessments and finalize plans for repairs within the Wilson Tunnel in the Honolulu bound direction of the Likelike Highway.

Damage to eight stainless steel rods which support the tunnel ceiling was discovered during a routine inspection on Sept. 25, 2015. To protect the health and safety of our highway users, the tunnel was closed to traffic over the weekend.  During the closure, HDOT crews and a structural engineering consultant identified 22 other rods that were damaged.  To minimize impacts to motorists travelling toward town from the windward side, HDOT designed a shoring and barrier plan that allowed a single lane through the town bound tunnel to be opened to commuters before the Monday morning traffic while inspections and repair designs were being completed.

“The safety of our residents, visitors, and staff is our number one priority,” said Ed Sniffen, HDOT Highways Division Deputy Director. “My compliments to the highways staff for identifying a problem, proactively taking steps to protect the public, and for returning a lane to the community as soon as it was safe to do so. The Wilson Tunnel continues to be a safe route to utilize.”

The left lane of the tunnel remains closed while HDOT finalizes plans to repair broken rods and areas of spalling concrete.  Crews are finalizing assessments of the more than 560 stainless steel rods, and the 5,500 feet of 5-inch thick reinforced concrete ceiling in both portals of the Wilson Tunnel to determine the cause and extent of damage by Friday. The scope, cost, schedule, and plans for the repair will be completed by end of week. The emergency repair work will commence when the new rods have been made and delivered, which is estimated to take 3-4 weeks.

During repair construction, one lane will continue to be open in the Honolulu bound direction during peak travel times.  Construction may require intermittent full closures of the tunnel, but HDOT will do its best to limit full closures to non-peak commute hours.  The public will be notified of such closures via message boards, social media and public advisories. The speed limit in the Wilson Tunnel, Honolulu bound has been reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. Please drive with caution.

“I thank the public for its patience as we work to ensure the tunnel is repaired before we return full mobility to the community,” said Ford Fuchigami, HDOT Director. “After we complete our assessments and finalize the repair schedule, we will look at taking appropriate actions to minimize impacts to the community.”

HDOT has not made any operational changes to replace the inbound lane at this time. Engineers are looking at options such as having tow trucks standby at the tunnels during peak commute hours and potentially reversing the flow of the two outbound lanes during the AM peak traffic.  The options will be evaluated for safety, cost, and operational impacts with respect to the repair work schedule HDOT will receive this Friday. More details will be released when the plans are finalized. The Pali Highway and H-3 Freeway remain open and viable alternatives.

The Wilson Tunnel opened to traffic in 1960. The Honolulu bound tunnel is 2,775 feet in length. The Kaneohe bound side is 2,813 feet long. The tunnel was built by the City & County of Honolulu for $12 million. At the time HDOT had not been established. The facility was later turned over to the State.


Tim Sakahara
State of Hawaii Department of Transportation
Public Information Officer
869 Punchbowl Street, Room 504
Honolulu HI 96813-5097
Telephone: (808) 587-2160
Fax: (808) 587-2313