OH, do I have a story...

Living in Honolulu, Hawaii traffic is consistently trash. We have tourists from all over the globe who attempt to drive, capture sunsets and get lost navigate our 2-lane roads around the North Shore. It can be terrible at times.

This story took it to a place I never knew I’d experience in all my years...

We have about 3 major highways, the longest being H1. The H1 highway has an HOV lane that is “created” each morning by having a “Zipper” machine lay down cement blocks that create the wall for this lane. Around 9 Am each morning, the city drives it backward and picks up the wall, to repeat the next morning. This day the machine broke...

For those unfamiliar, Hawaii while small has an ABUNDANCE of cars. Traveling from the city of Honolulu to the west side of the island (Kapolei, Ewa Beach area for reference) means DAILY bumper-to-bumper traffic. Even with an HOV lane, traffic is still horrendous. Now imagine that commute home is reduced down to two lanes, from the downtown area of Honolulu, past the airport into the area a majority of people live. Let us say it spans 20-25 miles. 2 lanes only.

The ENTIRE island was backed up. The whole thing. Not just the highway, I’m talking the inner streets, towns, etc. Everything stopped. To travel from Waikiki to Honolulu International Airport (probably 8-10 miles) went from the usually 15-30 minutes to 3 hours. Then 4 hours. Then 5 hours. And eventually, we had tourists walking the shoulder of highways trying to make flights. Numerous planes left almost empty. People were dragging luggage throw highway exits, running.

I was leaving work and up to this point thought that there was an accident causing our buildings front street to be backed up from 4 pm to 7 pm. In my foolish thinking, I imagined traffic starting at 4 PM was the usual everyday traffic and that my commute home at 7 PM would be quick and easy. Negative.

I leave work at 7 PM. Notice the utter disaster of the streets. Here’s some perspective, it took me FORTY-FIVE minutes to move 1 block. I escaped the nonsense by driving to a nearby friends house. This involved a few maneuvers the local police would probably frown upon, but this day was epically bad. The mayor was on the radio asking everyone for patience. Why? Because the SOLE mechanic for the stupid HOV lane machine was NOT on the island. He was on vacation.

At this point reports of delays had reached another world. People who made it home called into stations screaming about it taking 6 hours. SIX HOURS. to make it 15 miles home. I made it to my friend’s place and decided to stay until it died down. I’m foolishly thinking it’ll be a few hours, that the worst of the traffic was from earlier in the day until now. I was WRONG.

I waited at his place, reading Twitter, listening to the radio and getting updates from friends trapped on the roads. This was 7:30 to 8 pm. I waited until 2 Am. I get into my car, expecting nothing less than a smooth drive. It’s already reckless hours. I start my drive. All is clear going west. I think I’m safe. I starting seeing red lights. Dread fills me.

I get home at 7:30 AM.

I lived 11 miles from my friend’s house.