The route of Interstate H-3 was incorporated in the 51.2 mile addition to the Eisenhower Interstate and Defense Highway System for Hawaii as part 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 hearings. 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
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