The Highways, Harbors and Airports Divisions within the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) are making preparations in advance of the severe weather forecast from Hurricanes Madeline and Lester, which are tracking toward the state. Residents and visitors should continue to monitor current conditions with the National Weather Service and media outlets.
The public is advised that despite precautions, ponding may still occur on the roadways if too much water falls in a short period of time, as was the case with Tropical Storm Darby on July 24, 2016 when approximately 11 inches of rain fell over Oahu within a matter of hours. The public is asked to be vigilant, monitor conditions and follow instructions from authorities. In cases of severe weather, the best option may be to stay home or indoors if possible.
Crews will be ready to respond as necessary should a roadway be impacted. Equipment is being staged in areas that have experienced storm damage in the past. Storm drains, particularly those in areas prone to flooding, will be checked for blockage and will be monitored to ensure they continue to function at maximum capacity. Fuel tanks are being topped off and ready for 24-hour cleanup mode.
HDOT is working with contractors on construction sites to remove the best management practices (BMP) that could obstruct the flow of water, such as drain sleeves and other filtration devices. Previously scheduled lane closures and construction projects may be altered depending on weather conditions.
As always, we strongly encourage drivers to use the many applications and resources available to check up to the minute traffic conditions. HDOT offers www.GoAkamai.org which is a website with current traffic conditions and incidents on the state freeways, 200 traffic cameras around Oahu, drive times and more. With the free MyGoAkamai feature drivers can receive customized alerts and information pertinent to their specific route, time and day they are on the road. Looking at traffic conditions in advance can help people decide which route is best or if they should adjust the time they start their trip.
There are also a variety of other free traffic related applications and services available to help people with their planning. Drivers should feel free to use whichever resource they are comfortable with. People should look up the information on their devices prior to getting behind the wheel of their car. Remember to drive safely and obey traffic laws.
HDOT is preparing to close the Umauma Bridge as a precaution, as has been done in the past. The Bridge will remain open as long as possible. In the event it is closed people should expect delays in the area. Motorists should follow the signage to the alternate route on the Old Mamalahoa Highway.
Equipment is being staged in areas such as Hana Highway in an effort to respond to landslides and reopen roadways as quickly as possible. We are coordinating with contractors to ensure additional workers will be available if necessary.
Crews are repairing a section of Honoapiilani Highway near mile marker 13 in order to prevent further erosion damage. The repairs are in line with federal highway safety regulations.
Crews are placing large sandbags on School Street near Liliha Street to help prevent water from flowing down to the H-1 Freeway. This is an area that experienced flooding during Tropical Storm Darby.
Crews are assessing Kamehameha Highway near Kaaawa and will work to reduce the risk of erosion damage from the high surf.
Crews will continue to monitor the conditions, check storm drains for blockage, top off fuel tanks, and ensure equipment is in proper working order.
HDOT Harbors Division works in close coordination with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG will determine condition levels and ultimately make the decision to close a port. Certain condition levels will trigger preparations for the State to ensure harbor facilities are protected and readying the port for the possibility of strong winds and high surf. This includes securing flying hazards, ensuring boats are properly tied to piers, and ensuring oily mixtures and trash are properly disposed. This condition will also prompt certain vessels to declare their intentions of whether they intend to stay in port if conditions change.
HDOT Airports Division has protocols in place for pre-storm arrival preparations for any major natural disaster. Per protocol, vehicles, emergency generators, pumping stations, and equipment are topped off with fuel. Emergency fuel is also made ready for deployments as directed.
State firefighters stationed at the airport facilities are ready to respond to situations as necessary. Plans are in place for emergency heavy duty equipment to be secured at designated locations around the facility to provide safe haven for all equipment that would be needed to work on the airfield after the storm.
HDOT Airports Division works with the airlines to ensure equipment is secured. As a reminder, HDOT does not control the aircrafts in flight. It is up to the airline and individual pilots to determine if conditions are safe enough to fly. Passengers should consult their airline for current flight information.