What’s Open or Closed in Honolulu When President Barack Obama and World Conservation Congress Come to Town

Starting Wednesday, traffic will grind to a halt in Honolulu around the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and the Hawai‘i Convention Center because of the World Conservation Congress. Then come the hurricanes—Madeline and Lester. Here’s what you need to know.

With 7,000 high-profile delegates and President Barack Obama attending the World Conservation Congress as well as events at the East-West Center this week, traffic in Honolulu is about to get seriously congested. Throw in two looming hurricanes and the grand opening of a new Foodland in Ala Moana Center on Wednesday and you’ve got a recipe for unhappy commuters, hapless tourists and miserable parents trapped during school drop-offs and pick-ups. Pedestrians and bicyclists will also be affected by sidewalk and crosswalk closures around both centers, including the Ala Wai Promenade. (Paddlers probably already know the Ala Wai Canal itself is closed for the duration of the Congress, until Sept. 10. Kailua residents familiar with previous presidential visits will brace themselves for a Labor Day double-whammy.)


Drivers in the area will feel the impact starting tonight, Tuesday, at 10 p.m. That’s when the traffic control devices, including barriers and cones, will be installed on Kapi‘olani Boulevard and Ward Avenue. Here’s what you’ll face when you hit the road; updates will be posted to the Department of Emergency Management site at oahudem.org.


Blaisdell Center area:


  • By 5 a.m. Wednesday, all ‘Ewa-bound lanes of Kapi‘olani between Kamake‘e Street and Ward Avenue will be closed and remain closed until Friday;

  • By 2:30 a.m. Thursday, and lasting to 2 p.m., Victoria Street will be closed between Beretania and King streets;

  • Makai-bound traffic on Victoria Street between Kīnau and Beretania Streets must turn right onto Beretania;

  • Mauka-bound lanes on Ward Avenue will be closed between Kapi‘olani Boulevard and King Street;

  • King Street makai curb lane will be closed between Ward Avenue and McKinley High School driveway; 

  • Also Thursday, Young Street between Victoria and Pensacola streets will be open for local traffic only; and,

  • There will be no morning peak contraflow on Ward Avenue or Kapi‘olani Boulevard. Afternoon contraflow will not be affected.

  • Barriers will be removed from 7 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday. Parking will be restricted at the Blaisdell Center and the box office will be relocated to the Waīkīki Shell box office, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Hawai‘i Convention Center area:


  • From Aug. 30 to Sept. 10 the following closures will be in effect:

  • Atkinson Drive mauka-bound curb lane will be closed between Mahukona Street and Kapi‘olani Boulevard;

  • The Koko Head-bound curb lane on Kapi‘olani Boulevard will be closed between Atkinson Drive and Kalākaua Avenue;

  • The makai-bound curb lane on Kalākaua Avenue will be closed between Kapi‘olani Boulevard and the Ala Wai Canal Bridge.


Ala Moana and Ala Wai Park closures:


  • On Thursday, the Magic Island parking lot will be closed to the public;

  • From Sept. 1-10, the McCoy Pavilion and the “Keyhole” parking area, including the tennis courts and the lawn bowls green, will be closed to the public.

  • The Ala Wai Community Park building and parking lot, Ala Wai Park and baseball field will remain open.



With the President here for part of the Congress and speaking at the East-West Center, traveling to Midway Atoll and spending some time in Kailua before heading off to China, expect the usual motorcade and Kailua closures and restrictions. Kailua also prohibits parking on streets and shoulders from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Labor Day weekend. 


Read More Stories by Don Wallace