The makai lane of Kamehameha Highway will be closed for most of the day Thursday as city crews conduct the emergency removal of seven date palm trees fronting Sunset Beach Park.
Work is expected to begin at about 8:30 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. in the area immediately around the work site fronting the beach park, according to the city news release. A buffer zone of at least 50 feet in both directions will also be in place.
The single-lane closure is expected to impact traffic along the corridor.
Certified arborists with the city’s Division of Urban Forestry have determined that “the continual undermining of the palm trees by erosion made them a hazard to the general public and motorists.” Although the trees are on the makai side of Kamehameha Highway, the city said compromised palm trees can fall in any direction once they are structurally unsound.
The crews plan to remove the top and middle portions of the palms, leaving about four feet of the tree trunks and roots in the ground. The remaining roots are expected to help reduce erosion.
Severe erosion at Sunset during the beginning of this winter surf season resulted in the relocation of a lifeguard stand, Ocean Safety storage shed and bicycle path in December. Although some of the sand that washed away has since returned, a significant drop-off still remains.
Sunset Beach resident Phyllis Shipman said she was hoping the city could wait until an independent study by the Outdoor Circle is completed, and consider other options. She said she and others in the community were surprised by the decision, and hope there are long-term plans in place to mitigate further erosion.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but I think you need to have a plan.”