H-3 Highway And Tetsuo Harano Tunnel

H-3 Highway And Tetsuo Harano Tunnel
Like Dislike Save
Address John A. Burns Fwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Amazing drive, one of the engineering marvels of Hawaii.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Photo Opportunity • Vehicle Activities: Fun Drives

The Interstate H-3 highway system is an actual interstate highway even though Hawaii doesn't exactly connect to any other states! It's also officially called the John A. Burns Freeway (after a former governor of Hawaii) but residents of Hawaii simply call it the H3.

The road travels across the Ko'olau Mountain Range on Oahu's east side. Because the mountains are incredibly tall, the only option was to tunnel through them. That tunnel is known as the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels (named for a long time and former state highways administrator) which connect the H1 highway on the west side of the mountains to the city of Kaneohe on the east side. The tunnels are 4,980 feet (1,520 meters) long as you head east and 5,165 feet (1,574 meters) long as you head west.

They make for a very interesting drive as the weather on either side can be very different. You might have perfect weather and sunshine on one side and a cloudy downpour on the other which makes for an interesting adventure if you're driving in a convertible with the top down!

Heading east, and after passing through the main Tetsuo Tunnels, you'll also encounter much smaller tunnels which are called the Hospital Rock Tunnels and are far less exciting. What is exciting after the main tunnels are the views you'll see of Kaneohe from a highly elevated position. Amazing ocean and valley aerial views are all around but make sure to keep your eyes on the twisting road if you're the driver.

The H3 runs out, heading east, at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) which you cannot enter if you're not military personnel so be sure to exit before the end.

The highway system construction started in the 1980s but didn't officially open until December 12, 1997. As with building anything in Hawaii, a variety of environmental concerns and legal issues slowed construction. It was only after Senator Daniel Inouye had the freeway exempted from many environmental laws as part of a Department of Defence bill in 1986 that construction picked up. Ironically, the Honolulu Rail Transit has many similar issues slowing it down and raising prices along the way.

When all was said and done, the H3 became one of the most expensive interstate highways (per mile) ever built with a final cost of $1.3 billion (in 1997 dollars). That's around $80 million dollars for every mile built. You'd think they paved it with gold for that price but once you see this amazing, elevated mass of concrete it almost seems like a deal. Almost.