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Interstate H-3

Interstate H-3 is a 15.32 mile freeway which runs the east/west on the Hawaiian Island of O'ahu.  Interstate H-3 begins from the terminus of Interstate H-1 in Halawa and treks eastward over the Ko'olau Range across to Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  Interstate H-3 is the primary highway connecting Naval Station Pearl Harbor to Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  Mile for mile Interstate H-3 is largely considered to be one of the most scenic Interstate corridors.  Pictured above is Interstate H-3 eastbound approaching the Tetsuo Harano Tunnel of the Ko'olau Range.

This page is part of the Gribblenation O'ahu Highways page.  All Gribblenation and Roadwaywiz media related to the highway system of O'ahu can be found at the link below:

https://www.gribblenation.org/p/gribblenation-oahu-highways-page.html


Part 1; the history of Interstate H-3

Note; the majority of the information pertaining to the history of Interstate H-3 in this blog is directly sourced from the Hawaii Department of Transportation's publicity pamphlet titled "Hawaii's Interstate H-3 Freeway."


Prior to the Statehood the first signed highways within Hawaii Territory came into existence during World War II.   During World War II the territory of Hawaii saw an influx of military activity following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.  Numerous Military Routes and early Hawaii Routes were signed through the Hawaiian Territory to aid military personnel in navigating the islands.  Military Highways were assigned US Route style shields whereas lesser highways were assigned an early variation of what is now the Hawaii Route Spade.  

During World War II the only highway directly across the Ko'olau Range was the Pali Highway.  Even by World War II standards the Pail Highway was considerably old as it was opened in 1897.  The 1897 Pali Highway featured a 20 foot wide roadway and grades of 8% percent.



A 1946 Army Map of the Island of O'ahu shows the Pali Road assigned as part of Military Route 13 south of Nu'aunu Pali and Hawaii Route 160 north of it.  A full version of the 1946 Army Map of O'ahu can be seen on hawaiihighways.com here.  


Circa 1955 following the conclusion of World War II the United States Bureau of Public Roads renumbered the Hawaii Route System.  The 1955 Hawaii Route Renumbering saw most of the conventions utilized by the current Hawaii State Route System established.  Primary Hawaii Routes were given two digit numbers whereas Secondary Hawaii Routes were given three digit numbers.  The Hawaii Routes were assigned in sequence for what Island/County they were located on coupled with what Federal Aid Program number they were tied to.  In the case of O'ahu the Island was assigned numbers in the range of 60-99.  In the case of the Pali Highway it was assigned as Hawaii Route 61.  A far more detailed explanation of the 1955 Hawaii Route Renumbering can be found at hawaiihighways.com here.  

The singular highway over the Ko'olau Range was initially addressed by the construction of Hawaii Route 63 which was known as the Likelike Highway.   The Likelike Highway was planned to pass through the Ko'olau Range via the John H. Wilson Tunnel.  The full scale of the planned alignment of Hawaii Route 63 across the Ko'olau Range can be seen on the 1956 Shell Highway Map of the Hawaiian Islands.  


The westbound John H. Wilson Tunnel opened to traffic on October 30th, 1958 and would service two-way traffic in interim until the eastbound tunnel opened.  The eastbound John H. Wilson Tunnel opened to traffic on November 22nd, 1960 which completed Hawaii Route 63 across the Ko'olau Range.  

On August 21st, 1959 Hawaii became the 50th State which saw it's profile rise significantly.  The Interstate System in Hawaii was authorized as part of the 1960 Statehood Act.  The 1960 Statehood Act authorized Interstates H-1, H-2 and H-3 on the Island of O'ahu.  Between 1963-67 the O'ahu Transportation Study recognized a need for an Interstate across the Ko'olau Range to supplement the Pail Highway and Likelike Highway.  The initial planned corridor of Interstate H-3 had it aligned through Moanalua Valley.  During 1970 the first public hearings regarding Interstate H-3 were held which coincided with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 being signed into Federal Law on January 1st, 1970.  The National Environmental Policy Act required a Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") for the corridor of Interstate H-3.  During 1972 a lawsuit led to a Federal District Court injunction halting construction of Interstate H-3 between the Halekou Interchange and Halawa Interchange.  Work on Interstate H-3 was ultimately allowed to continue on the Halawa Interchange and the alignment from Pali Golf Course to Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station (now Marine Corps Base Hawaii).  The initial segment of Interstate H-3 was opened from Mokapu Saddle Road north to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay during December 1972.


During 1973 the Moanalua Gardens Foundation submitted an application to the U.S. Department of the Interior and Hawaii State Historic Preservation Officer to declare Moanalua Valley a historic landmark.  Consequently the advisory board of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior recommended preservation of Moanalua Valley.  The corridor of Interstate H-3 across the Ko'olau Range was discussed in public hearings to be determined if it should be added to the O'ahu General Plan.  

The Ko'olau Range portion of Interstate H-3 was added to the O'ahu General Plan in 1974.  During 1974 the U.S. Secretary of Transportation approved the EIS of Interstate H-3 through Moanalua Valley but this was objected by the Hawaii State Historic Society.  The Federal Injunction on construction of Interstate H-3 in the Ko'olau Range was lifted during 1974 subsequent to the approval of the EIS by the U.S Secretary of Transportation.  During 1975 the State of Hawaii awarded contracts to construct the Red Hill Tunnel amid continuing court challenges to the Moanalua Valley corridor of Interstate H-3.


During 1976 the Federal 9th Circuit Court reinstated the injunction on construction of Interstate H-3 through Moanalua Valley.  The court was of opinion that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior should have explored alternative corridors for which Interstate H-3 could be aligned through the Ko'olau Range.  During 1977 the U.S. Secretary of Transporation ruled out Moanalua Valley as part of the alignment of Interstate H-3 instead suggesting Halawa Valley or Nu'uana Valley.  Nine alternative routes of Interstate H-3 and a "no build" option were discussed in public hearings.  Ultimately Halawa Valley was chosen as the new corridor of Interstate H-3 across the Ko'olau Range.  A supplemental EIS for Interstate H-3 was submitted following the selection of Halawa Valley. 


During 1978 the Stop H-3 Association was granted a motion by the Federal District Court to amend it's 1972 lawsuit.  During 1980 the supplemental EIS of the Interstate H-3 corridor was approved by the State of Hawaii and by Federal officials.  During 1981 the Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA") approved the location and design of Interstate H-3 through Halawa Valley.

During 1981 the Federal District Court ruled that the order halting construction of Interstate H-3 through Moanalau Valley may also apply Halawa Valley.  The Federal District Court during 1982 ultimately dissolved the injunction halting construction of Interstate H-3 but required a second supplemental EIS be submitted.  The second supplemental EIS was approved during September 1982 by the FHWA and the Hawaii Department of Transporation put construction of Halekou Interchange up for bid.  Construction of the Halekou Interchange broke ground during 1983.  


During 1984 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the injunction blocking construction of Interstate H-3 across the Ko'olau Range.  The U.S. Supreme Court during 1985 denied a request by the State of Hawaii to hear an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.  Ultimately the corridor of Interstate H-3 across the Ko'olau Range was allowed an exemption by U.S. Senate during 1986 and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.  During 1987 a third supplemental EIS was issued for public comment.  The Federal District Court dismissed the Stop H-3 and Office of Hawaiian Affairs lawsuits which led to all injunctions halting construction of Interstate H-3 being lifted on June, 15th.  Following the injunctions being lifted construction of the Halekou Interchange resumed.  


During August 1987 a Memorandum of Agreement on archaeological resources in the Interstate H-3 corridor was established between the FHWA, State Historic Preservation Office and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to place a new injunction on construction of Interstate H-3 during August 1987.  During October 1987 the FHWA approved the third supplemental EIS which was followed by construction of the North Halawa Valley Access Road breaking ground during November.  Below the ground breaking ceremony held on November 2nd, 1987 commencing construction of the North Halawa Valley Access Road can be seen.



During 1988 construction of the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels began via excavation of an exploratory tunnel.  The exploratory tunnel was intended to survey and mitigate any potential geological uncertainties.  



During 1989-1997 Interstate H-3 was constructed via 27 contracts and opened to traffic on across the Ko'olau Range on December 12th, 1997.  


Below Interstate H-3 can be seen crossing the North Halawa Valley towards the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels.


Below construction of the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels is detailed.  The Halawa bound tunnel bore is 5,165 feet in length whereas the Kanohe bound tunnel is 4,890 feet in length.  The Tetsuo Harano Tunnels take their name for the former Hawaii Department of Transportation Chief who served the State for 52 years.  



Below an aerial view of the Windward Viaduct (by Irwin Malzman) can be seen along with numerous facts about the structure.  The Windward Viaduct consists of two 6,600 foot bridges which each featuring 24 individual spans.  The Windward Viaduct is intended to blend in with the Ko'olau Range.  





Part 2; a drive on eastbound Interstate H-3 by Tom Fearer of Gribblenation

During November 2021 Tom Fearer of Gribblenation drove Interstate H-3 eastbound from Interstate H-201.  From Interstate H-201 westbound traffic can access Interstate H-3 eastbound from Exit 1D. 




Interstate H-3 eastbound enters Halawa Valley and is signed as 14 miles from Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  Interstate H-3 is signed as the John A. Burns Freeway.  







Interstate H-3 eastbound passes through Halawa Valley towards the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels.  There are no Exits on Interstate H-3 in Halawa Valley and the freeway is largely consists of viaduct spans.  The Tetsuo Harano Tunnels have a emergency turnaround point approaching the Kanohe bound bore.  
















Interstate H-3 eastbound emerges from the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels onto the Windward side of the Ko'olau Range.  Interstate H-3 eastbound crosses the Windward Viaduct and cuts through the Hospital Rock Tunnels.  The Kanohe bound Hospital Rock Tunnel is 354 feet in length whereas the Halawa bound Tunnel is 353 feet in length.  












Interstate H-3 eastbound Exit 9 accesses Hawaii Route 63/Likelike Highway.




Interstate H-3 eastbound Exit 11 accesses Hawaii Route 83/Kamehameha Highway.





Interstate H-3 eastbound Exit 14 accesses Hawaii Routes 65 and 630.







East of Exit 14 Interstate H-3 has a scenic vista of Kaneohe Bay.




Interstate H-3 eastbound Exit 15 accesses former Hawaii Route 63 on Kaneohe Bay Drive in Kailua.  Interstate H-3 continues east of Exit 15 and terminates at the gate of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  A turnaround point to Interstate H-3 westbound can be found approaching the gate at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.






Part 3; a drive on westbound Interstate H-3 by Dan Murphy of Roadwaywiz

During 2019 Dan Murphy of Roadwaywiz (and of Gribblenation) toured Interstate H-3 westbound.  Below Interstate H-3 westbound at Exit 15/Kanohe Bay Drive can be observed.


Interstate H-3 westbound approaching the Ko'olau Range.


Interstate H-3 westbound signed as the John A. Burns Freeway approaching the Kaneohe Bay Vista.


A Interstate H-3 shield at the Kaneohe Bay vista.


Interstate H-3 westbound at the Hosptial Rock Tunnels. 



Interstate H-3 westbound climbing the Windward Viaduct to the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels. 







Interstate H-3 westbound descending through Halawa Valley.



Interstate H-3 westbound approaching it's terminus at Interstate H-1 in Halawa near Aloha Stadium.





Part 4; Roadwaywiz features Interstate H-3

During April of 2019 the Roadwaywiz Youtube Channel featured real-time dries on Interstate H-3.  Below Interstate H-3 eastbound is featured eastbound. 


Below Interstate H-3 westbound is featured.


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