Potholes and patches can make for a bumpy drive along the Pali Highway, but Hawaii's Department of Transportation (HDOT) says crews are already preparing to smooth out your ride with a $64 million improvement project.

"I think we can all agree, especially from the Windward side that this project is long, long, overdue," Representative Jarrett Keohokalole said. 

A blessing ceremony was held on Wednesday to formally kick-off the first part of the project. The first of the three projects includes repaving of the corridor from Waokanaka Street to Kamehameha Highway. Crews will also work on replacing, repairing and adding street lights along the Pali, starting from Vineyard Boulevard to Kamehameha Highway. According to HDOT, converting to energy efficient light fixtures will save approximately $99,000 per year in energy cost. 

"Our first phase is what we're going to do is try to get the center median-- the center median is our critical path, so we got to get in there.. get the light poles in for the lights and then we got put up the concrete median that's going to go in there," Ed Brown, Regional Manager for Goodfellow Brothers said. 

Drivers have been complaining about the Pali for years. So what took so long? Deputy Director Edwin Sniffen says his department was working to obtain the funding, and doing road-work on the Pali while there was another project closing lanes on the Likelike wasn't ideal.

"Likelike is at the point now where inbound they are only looking at daytime closures.. no nighttime closures anymore, especially with work going on here. Once they're done in April there will be the alternate routes available, so Likelike and H-3 will be available if Pali gets to heavy. We don't anticipate that though," Sniffen said. 

More than 50,000 vehicles use the Pali on daily basis, according to Sniffen. To hopefully alleviate traffic, HDOT says crews will work at night and then open up three lanes through Nu'uanu during peak travel times.  Full overnight closures will start mid-February, and are expected to continue through 2019.

Tentative lane closure schedule

February 15, 2018 to March 21, 2019

Waokanaka to Kamehameha Hwy
ALL Inbound Lanes Closed
8:30PM - 5:00AM (Sunday night to Friday morning)

Waokanaka to Kamehameha Hwy
Left Outbound Lane Closed
8:30PM - 5:00AM (Sunday night to Friday morning)

March 15, 2019 to July 3, 2019

Waokanaka to Kamehameha Hwy
ALL Outbound Lanes Closed
8:30PM - 5:00AM (Sunday night to Friday morning)

Electronic boards will go up to alert motorist of lane closures and alternate route travel times.

"That is to make sure that at decision making points the public can see the board and choose which way they'd like to go," Sniffen said. 

HDOT's advice to drivers is to plan ahead and check traffic conditions before getting behind the wheel.

The Pali Highway Improvement Project is expected to be complete by Winter 2019.

For more information visit http://PaliHighway.org.