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Reopening of Kuhio Highway stretch in Kauai delayed until mid-June

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One lane of Kuhio Highway near Hanalei Bridge will remain closed for the next few months as crews conduct adjacent slope stabilization work, according to state transportation officials.

The state’s reopening of a 2-mile stretch of Kuhio Highway, which has been closed to non-local traffic for more than a year, is now anticipated to take place June 13.

The state Department of Transportation and Gov. David Ige had previously said that the road was on track to reopen May 1. On April 30, DOT amended the date to was May 20.

Now, the reopening has been delayed again so that DOT can put resources towards the emergency slope stabilization on Kuhio Highway at the hill approaching Hanalei Bridge.

“Maintaining access to Haena and Hanalei for our residents and visitors is an important task,” Governor David Ige said in a statement. “We are grateful for the $77 million in federal assistance to rebuild the road following the April 2018 floods and are confident that the finished product will be safe and resilient to future events.”

Flooding April 14-15, 2018, which produced approximately 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour period and caused landslides, left a portion of Kuhio Highway with some 32 emergency repair sites. The ensuing roadwork cut off Kauai’s north shore beyond Waikoko from the rest of the island, closing the communities of Lumahai, Wainiha and Haena to most outsiders.

While the state has already completed much of the repair work, some important projects still are ongoing.

Kuhio Highway in the area will be limited to one lane 24 hours a day until the stabilization is completed for the safety of passing motorists, state transportation officials said, which is expected to take four to five months.

The Lihue-bound lane of the highway, also known as Route 560, will be closed at mile marker 1, but traffic will be allowed in both directions with alternating traffic control, except for when rock scaling is scheduled on the upper slope.

During rock scaling, crews will temporarily stop traffic for 30 to 45 minutes as they knock loose material down and clean the road. Motorists will then be directed through the closure one direction at a time. Rock scaling operations will not take place during the lower slope work.

State transportation officials closed the lane after a slope assessment on Wednesday. Haena State Park, Haena Beach Park, and the Limahuli Garden and Preserve all remain closed.

Limited local access to Kuhio Highway past Waipa Bridge is available for vehicles with county issued placards in both directions Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.; 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.; and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. unless bridge night work is scheduled.

For scheduled events in the area like the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association State Championship Race in August, the state said it will coordinate traffic control and access with the county and other stakeholders.

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