H3 has more than one tunnelUPDATED 8:18 PM HST Aug 14, 2013Video Transcript
you've never seen them before! The H3 is still the most costly public works project ever completed in Hawaii's history. And did you know the H3 actually has three tunnels! KITV4's Andrew Pereira takes inside for a look few of us will ever see in person. Town bound, and Kailua Bound... the H3 Harano tunnels opened on Dec. 12, 1997... a marvel of American ingenuity. But this is actually the first tunnel ever built. Like the two others, it spans the entire width of the Koolau Mountains. CAROLINE SLUYTER: "BEFORE THEY COULD EVEN BID ON THE TUNNEL TO BUILD IT, THEY NEEDED TO FIND OUT WHAT THEY WERE UP AGAINST AND WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE. SO, THEY ACTUALLY DID DO A TUNNEL, AN EXPLORATORY TUNNEL ALL THE WAY THROUGH." Keep walking down this path and you eventually reach this ... the belly of the mountain... an unfinished part of the third tunnel. But even before boring began, a road was cut through Halawa Valley... the only access allowed now is for Native Hawaiians. The first thing you notice is the change in temperature ... more than 1,000 feet above sea level. CAROLINE SLUYTER: "IT IS COOL, YOU CAN FEEL A KIND OF TROPICAL LUSHNESS OF IT UP HERE. SO, IT'S ACTUALLY A REALLY BEAUTIFUL PLACE." But like any tunnel, major accidents or fires are always a concern. The control center sees every nook and cranny with 38 all-seeing electronic eyes. ANDREW PEREIRA: "AND IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY THERE'S 20 OF THESE EVACUATION DOORS ON THE TOWN-BOUND AND KAILUA- BOUND TUNNELS THAT ARE ALWAYS OPEN." Carbon monoxide monitors determine if more ventilation is needed. The trade winds usually take care of that, but if more air IS required, 32 massive fans can each move 210 cubic feet of air every minute. CAROLINE SLUYTER: "THEY'RE ACTUALLY BUILT TO THE MOST MODERN DESIGN STANDARDS, SO THEY DO HAVE A LOT OF SAFETY FEATURES ALREADY BUILT INTO THE TUNNELS." And no power, no problem... this diesel generator can fuel the control center and lights both inside and outside the tunnels. At $1.3 billion dollars, the tunnels span nearly a mile, with the entire freeway stretching 16 miles. The fourth floor of the complex also has a view...few have ever seen. As of 2008... the H3 freeway was already carrying more than 30- percent of the island's trans- Koolau traffic. And something else you may not know ... both the Pali and Likelike highways are considered unsafe in hurricane conditions, and those tunnels would likely be closed during a storm.