Let's not add limu to Pali's perils
By Lee Cataluna
Growing up in Hawai'i, you always hear stories about the Pali Highway.
The thing about the pork, the thing about the eyes in the rear view mirror, even the one about the ghost donkey that appears alongside cars as they pass in the night.
A week ago, three of us were in my friend's car heading over the Pali at night and, as often happens when friends get together, we were making jokes about somebody carrying raw char siu in her purse and generally trying to scare each other in a good-fun kind of way.
"You know what's really scary," said my friend. "My husband spun out in his truck by the hairpin turn last night."
We were getting close to the hairpin turn at this point. The car got quiet.
"He said he almost died."
When Denny Hironaga tells the story, he plays it down a little. He came around that infamous hairpin turn on his way home around 9 at night a week ago yesterday when the back wheels of his work truck started slipping.
The back of the truck hit the center median, then the front made contact, and Hironaga ended up turned all the way around on the roadway. Cars had to swerve to miss hitting him. He made it out with a slice on his leg and $4,000 worth of damage to the truck.
"The weirdest thing is that you're driving along, being careful, and all of a sudden it happens," Hironaga said. When he reported the accident, Kailua police told him he wasn't the first. Or the last.
There were 12 accidents in that same spot in the last month, actually.
Kailua police finally got fed up. The officers, not the captains, not the lieutenants, but the traffic officers themselves started calling the media.
They invited reporters to meet them out there at that bad hairpin turn, to take a look at the limu growing on the roadway, to see the concrete guardrails all scarred and scraped from bumpers and fenders. They called for action from the state Department of Transportation.
They got action.
This week, DOT work crews were out there cleaning and repairing the drainage system that was the source of the water on the road. The actual presence of some sort of slippery moss on the road was disputed, though many, myself included, swear they saw some limu action.
Let's hope the crews in the safety-orange vests were able to take care of the problem once and for all, and let's hope next time it doesn't take a dozen banged-up cars and some pressure from frustrated cops to get the DOT moving.
The Pali has enough perils, like the wild pigs that dart across the road near the breakaway lane. And that ghost donkey.
Lee Cataluna can be reached at 535-8172 or email@example.com.