APEC traffic woes can be avoided

Jamie Winpenny

HONOLULU -  The impact of APEC in the Pacific in the long term will not be immediate, but its impact on Honolulu has begun and will continue for the next few days. Most Oahu residents are keen to avoid the glacial traffic jams that clog the roadways around those chosen to shuttle heads of state and dignitaries to and from one APEC engagement to the next.

It can be difficult, however, to know exactly when and where these motorcades will be. In an effort to make it easier for Oahu residents to navigate the highways and byways without having to pack a lunch, or a tent, The Hawaii Independent has compiled a list of the areas to avoid at all costs. Even pedestrian traffic is being stopped in some cases. 

Those convoys can be miles long, and with President Obama, the First Lady, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Oahu, it has been and will continue to be almost impossible to get anywhere at various times and locations on Oahu.

The information below does not include the non-APEC activities of the dozens of motorcades that will be traveling on Oahu during the conference. Each APEC contingent has its own non-APEC schedule, so they could be anywhere when not at APEC. Details of those activities are kept purposefully murky. Good luck.

For maps of APEC-related vehicle and pedestrian restrictions, visit the City’s APEC Traffic webpage.

Friday, Hawaii Convention Center Area, Sheraton Waikiki

Events are happening at both locations, with some very heavy security, so road closures are certain to jam things up on Kalakaua Avenue, Kuhio Avenue, Kapiolani Boulevard, Ala Moana Boulevard, and Ala Wai Boulevard (and, presumably, the streets that connect with them).

Friday, Hickam AFB, Waikiki

The President and his entourage arrive Friday evening, with press access beginning at Hickam Air Force Base at 7:00 p.m. Road closures on H-1 Freeway, Nimitz Highway, and Ala Moana Boulevard are likely in those areas for much of the evening hours.

Saturday, Ko Olina, Waianae, Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki

The First Lady will be touring Ma’o Farms in Waianae around lunchtime, so H-1 Freeway and Farrington Highway will see the most traffic impact around that time.

The motorcades will move on that afternoon to the Hawaii Convention Center and the Hale Koa Hotel for the APEC Leaders Dinner, so it’s reasonable to expect the closures of H-1 Freeway, Nimitz Highway, and Ala Moana. The times of those closures have not been made public for security reasons, but the entire Fort DeRussy area between Ala Moana Boulevard and Saratoga Road will be shut down for APEC activities.

Sunday, JW Marriott, Ko Olina, Kualoa Ranch, Windward Oahu

First Lady Michelle Obama will greet guests for the Spouses Luncheon at Kualoa Ranch, which means that Kamehameha Highway, which sees heavy local traffic regularly, will likely be closed or gridlocked for much of the day.

The APEC Leaders Meeting takes place at the JW Marriott at Ko Olina on Sunday. Credentialed press has been asked to register at the Hawaii Convention Center at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, so traffic woes, including closures on Ala Moana Boulevard, Nimitz Highway, and H-1 Freeway, will begin early.

APEC meetings and photo-ops continue into the evening. Road closures as President Obama and other dignitaries return to their Waikiki accommodations are inevitable.

Monday, Hickam Air Force Base

President Obama and the First Lady leave from Hickam AFB on Monday at an undisclosed time. With APEC concluded, the Presidential motorcade could be anywhere until Air Force One takes off.