Makapu'u work, highway closures start today
A $1.3 million project to remove loose rocks and install a safety net at Makapu'u Point will close Kalaniana'ole Highway for eight hours a day beginning today and continuing through Nov. 27, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The rockfall mitigation project, originally scheduled for February, comes after decades of complaints by area residents about the danger from falling debris and, most recently, an incident on Oct. 15 that sent a truckload of rocks crashing onto the road.
Boulders and rocks falling from the hillside overlooking Makapu'u Beach are common, but injury is rare. In one of the more serious incidents, a 500-pound boulder smashed into a pickup truck in 1995, injuring a woman. She suffered a head injury and a broken back and ribs. Residents have often stopped to remove the debris themselves, but after the Oct. 15 incident, the community grew increasingly vocal and the state Department of Transportation decided to start the project early.
Merchants in Waimanalo who depend on tourism for their livelihood fear the dropoff in business expected from the road closure during the heart of the business day, but everyone in the community recognizes the importance of the work.
In all, the project could last up to six weeks.
In the first three weeks, the highway will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. Motorists will be turned around near the Hawai'i Kai Golf Course entrance and just past the Makapu'u Beach parking lot.
The highway will be open to traffic before and after the daily closure periods. The state has said emergency vehicles will have access through the construction site.
During the first week the crew will line the road with steel plates and begin drilling blasting holes, said Marilyn Kali, DOT spokeswoman. From Nov. 11-22, the contractor will remove rocks and blast six unstable rock outcroppings. Cleanup will take place in the final week.
Work to install netting and chain link fencing will follow, Kali said.
At that time only one lane of the highway is expected to be shut down.
More information about the project is available online or 587-2345.