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Interstate H-3

 

A rainbow graces Interstate H-3 (John A. Burns Freeway) as it climbs east from Pearl Harbor toward the Mokapu Peninsula. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 02/05/06.

Routing

Completed in the late 1990s, Interstate H-3 crosses the Koolau Range of the Island of Oahu along a viaduct and through the Trans-Koolau Tunnels. The freeway ends at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the Mokapu Peninsula.

History

Interstate H-3 was first authorized in as a result of the Statehood Act of 1960.1 Planning for Interstate H-3 continued through the 1960s, and it underwent an environmental study during the 1970s in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. Construction began but was stalled in the mid-1980s after a series of legal challenges and court appearances. In August 1984, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Interstate H-3 would negatively impact adjacent Hoomaluhia Park, which was created in conjunction with the new freeway. For the ensuing two years the completion of this highway was uncertain. However, in October 1986, President Reagan signed into a law a Congressional bill authorizing an exemption for Interstate H-3, thus allowing the freeway construction to resume.2

Jeff Royston - 02/05/06

Looking west, Interstate H-3 ascends toward the Trans-Koolau Tunnels. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 02/05/06.

After the legal challenges ended, the technical challenges continued. The next structure built along Interstate H-3 was the North Halawa Valley access road between 1986 and 1989. Hospital Rock Tunnel, a cut and cover tunnel, was constructed in the late 1980s. Construction of the North Halawa Viaduct and Windward Viaduct followed in the early 1990s, as did construction of the one-mile Trans-Koolau Tunnels, which carries the freeway under the Koolau Range. Interstate H-3 opened on December 12, 1997.3

This engineering wonder was featured in Public Roads in its Summer 1993. The article is available on line at the Federal Highway Administration Website: H3: The Island Interstate by Craig Sanders.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Kanoehe Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Perspective from Eastbound Interstate H-3
Eastbound Interstate H-3 ends at entrance to the Kanoehe Marine Corps Base Hawaii. No END shields are present, but the yellow "End Freeway" sign indicates that the freeway terminates at the base. Photo taken by Oscar Voss, 09/99.
Perspective from Westbound Interstate H-3
Upon leaving the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Interstate H3 begins with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 01/30/06.
Arguably the most scenic 12-mile stretch on any section of the Interstate Highway System, this mileage sign provides the distance to Pearl Harbor via Interstate H3. To the north, beautiful Kaneohe Bay and the city of Kaneohe simmer in the evening sun. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 01/30/06.
The first exit along eastbound Interstate H-3 is Exit 11, Junction Hawaii 83. Use Hawaii 83 north to Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Hauula, and Laie. There are two alternate routes to Interstate H3 through the Koolau Range: Hawaii 63/Like Like Highway and Hawaii 61. Both routes are accessible via Hawaii 83, but the best way to Hawaii 63 is to continue west on Interstate H-3 until Exit 9, Junction Hawaii 63. Use Hawaii 83 south to Hawaii 61. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 01/30/06.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate H-1 - Halawa Heights, Hawaii
Perspective from Eastbound Interstate H-3
This sign designates Interstate H-3 as the John A. Burns Freeway after the Halawa Interchange. It is found alongside the freeway as it ascends toward the Trans-Koolau Tunnels. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 02/05/06.
Perspective from Westbound Interstate H-3
Westbound Interstate H-3 ends at its junction with Interstate H-1 and Interstate H-201 (former Hawaii 78) in Honolulu at the Halawa Interchange. While Interstate H-3 ends at Interstate H-201/Hawaii 78, westbound traffic can continue onto ramps to Interstate H-1 through the complex interchange. Photo taken by Oscar Voss, 11/01.
Views of Kaneohe Bay from Eastbound Interstate H-3
These views of Kaneohe Bay are afforded along eastbound Interstate H-3. Photo taken by Jeff Royston, 02/05/06.

Sources:

  1. History of Interstate H-3 by the Hawaii Department of Transportation
  2. Federal Highway Administration Website: H3: The Island Interstate by Craig Sanders
  3. Hawaii Department of Transportation: Interstate H-3

Page Updated March 25, 2006.

 
Mileage

State Hawaii
Mileage 15.32
Cities Honolulu
Junctions Interstate H-1, Interstate H-201
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
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