Hauula residents want long-term fix for collapsed road
Repair crews began work Sunday morning along a portion of Kamehameha Highway that collapsed into the ocean in Hauula.
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Repair crews began work Sunday morning along a portion of Kamehameha Highway that collapsed into the ocean in Hauula, but some residents questioned why the state allowed the road’s condition to deteriorate to that extent.
Coastal erosion caused the latest collapse of the shoulder lane and part of a makai lane Friday night between Makao and Hauula Homestead roads. The Hauula collapse is the latest road damage from shoreline erosion that is affecting 10% of the state’s 2,500 lane miles, according to the Department of Transportation.
Ed Sniffen, DOT deputy director for highways, said the state is trying to get ahead of the problem, but there is a lot of catching up to do. He said most of the roadways suffering from erosion are on Oahu, with some on Maui and Kauai.
In Hauula, beaches have shrunk at a “moderate” rate of just under half a foot a year since 1928, according to the University of Hawaii’s coastal erosion website.
The state fixed a nearby section of Kamehameha Highway in April just south of Pokiwai Bridge near Hulahula Place after erosion damaged the roadway.
On Sunday the state’s contractor, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., was breaking up a concrete pad that had been placed along the highway to protect it from erosion. The concrete had sunk away from the road, creating a crack several fingers wide between the concrete pad and the asphalt.
Ivan Kabei, superintendent for Hawaiian Dredging, said the plan was to break up and haul away the concrete, then lay down Kyowa bags, which are giant bags filled with rocks to protect structures behind it from erosion. He said the bags have been successfully used in Japan. The workers will then backfill the area with a concrete mix and cover it with asphalt.
The work crews are repairing a 270-foot stretch of the roadway along the ocean and, at the same time, will fix a portion of the roadway a short walk toward Kaaawa that also has erosion damage.
Sniffen estimated the repairs would cost about $120,000, based on similar work in the past, and take about a week to complete. The state is contra-flowing traffic through the area during repair hours from
7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Both lanes will be opened outside of crew working hours.
Traffic was backed up about a quarter-mile before the construction site Sunday afternoon, causing about a five-minute delay in getting through.
The slowed traffic hurt at least one business in the area. Fawwaz Jubran, owner of Hauula Gift Shop, estimated foot traffic decreased 30% to 40% this weekend because of the lane closure.
He was spending more time chatting with the few customers who came in, and said the state could
do a better job fixing the problem.
“The problem is their solution is always a temporary solution,” he said.
Sniffen, of the DOT, has said the current fix is expected to last five to 10 years and that the state is researching methods that would last longer.
Randy Nahoopii, 54, who grew up in a house at the corner of Hauula Homestead Road and Kamehameha Highway, said he remembers when the beach was wider than a roadway and people would drive their vehicles on the sand. Now the water washes up against the road.
“When you get king tides, it’s worse,” he said. “The water is as high as the road.”
He added that his wife’s car was splashed from surf while she was driving on the roadway.
“They need to build a sea wall,” he said.
Levy James, who was picking up leaves in the yard of his home Sunday, said he used to fish at the beach directly across from his house on Kamehameha Highway, which he bought in 1964. But for the past five years, he hasn’t gone fishing because of the erosion. He said since the state laid concrete pillars along the highway to protect it from surf, he can’t walk down to the sand and has to walk farther up the road to reach the ocean.
“Everything’s disintegrating,” James said. “Everything’s disappearing.”
He said it seems the only time the state works on the road is when it gets washed out, and said the state should have done more to protect it from erosion. He said the state set up barriers in the past, but nothing was done and the area continued to deteriorate out of neglect.
“I got to really blame them for not keeping up the roads,” he said.
In Hauula the current washes away the sand during the winter months but brings some back in the summer. James said he believes the concrete pillars the state used for erosion control made the situation worse because they appeared to sink as the current washed away the sand.