Hawai`i Roads - I-H3


All photos are taken westbound.

I-H3 is perched on the mountainside high above Kane`ohe as seen from Kahuhipa St.

The only state-name H-3 shield you'll see - and all of the newer ones are just H3, no hyphen. The reason the distance sign doesn't go beyond the next exit is because when button copy was still used, the highway didn't go beyond the next exit. I-H3 through the Ko`olau Range took nearly forty years to build from authorization until completion. Construction began in earnest in the late 1980's, and the Kane`ohe section was opened from Exit 11 (Kam[ehameha] Highway) north into the Marine Corps Base Hawai`i. That's what this sign was for. When the entire highway opened in 1997, apparently HDOT forgot about updating this sign to reflect the roads on the other side of the range.

The first sign clearly dates to 1997, and is unusual in using a fraction over such a long distance. The second assembly is on a gantry as old as the button copy; the sign on the right probably is still only 11 years old, or else it would be button copy, but the LED sign on the left is a whole lot newer and looks it. In emergencies or as needed by the U.S. Armed Forces, one or both of the I-H3 tunnels can close.

The only EB photos on the page, but taken out of the rear window while traveling WB. I had to do it - it's the only other button copy on the route besides the one distance sign. Obviously, these signs were placed in the 1980's before the freeway was bored through the Ko`olau Range, whereas the one in the WB direction was probably replaced because the original had a message for all traffic to exit.

I-H3 continues to snake its way up the side of the Ha`iku Valley, passing through the short Hospital Rock Tunnels on the way to the longer, more contentious tunnels. Hawaiians didn't want the road built because of the environmental impacts, but it avoided the wrath of EPA by riding a defense bill to freedom. (Hey, of all the Interstates in the nation, it's the only one whose main purpose is military-related.)

Panorama of Kane`ohe Bay.

Tetsuo Harano was the administrator of HDOT, serving the territory and state of Hawai`i for an incredible 52 years. He was involved with the construction of I-H3 as well, so it's fitting that something gets to bear his name. The entire freeway is already named John Burns, but for a short time the tunnels shared his name as well, until they were returned to the rightful namesake.

Out the other side of the tunnels to the Halawa Valley.

Exit 11 to HI 83
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