Starting Sunday afternoon, the Pali Highway will be open in both directions at the same time, marking a milestone following months of emergency repairs.
The highly anticipated opening of the highway both ways begins at 1 p.m. Sunday rather than in the morning because crews need additional time to finish lighting improvements on a newly constructed tunnel extension, or “rock shed” in the Honolulu-bound direction.
The morning contraflow, however, will be available to Honolulu-bound drivers from 5 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
In following days, including the Labor Day holiday on Monday, both directions of Pali Highway will be open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
Access to Pali Highway, a major route connecting the Windward side to town, has been limited to the town-bound direction in the mornings, and subsequently, Kailua-bound direction in the afternoons, since a rockfall in February required an estimated $21 million in emergency repairs.
The work includes slope stabilization as well as the new, concrete structure, or “rock shed,” which extends the second Honolulu-bound tunnel’s entrance by about 80 feet to shield motorists from future rockfalls.
Access hours to the highway gradually increased as repairs were completed, but there was a three-month delay in opening the highway, originally anticipated to open in August. Additional slope work — as well as work on top of the “rock shed” — will require night-time closures, until November.
Pali Highway will also remained closed on Saturdays through early November, when it is expected to fully reopen, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“A catastrophic event caused tons of debris to fall from the mountain onto the Pali Highway,” said Gov. David Ige in a news release. “Crews have been working around the clock to get the work completed and deliver more access to the public as quickly and safely as possible in order for daily routines to return to normal.”