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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Round Top work progressing

By Robert Shikina
Advertiser Staff Writer

When Round Top Drive on Tantalus closed because of landslides four months ago, Ivan Chen felt the effect financially.

Chen, 51, rents two rooms in his spacious house atop Round Top Hill, usually for $4,000 or $5,000 a month. But the rooms have been empty since the road closed in March.

Instead of a quick ride to the top, would-be renters and other Tantalus residents have been taking 25-minute detours through winding roads to their homes.

"It takes a lot of tension," said Chen, 51. "The other road, if I drive a half-hour, it's OK. But here you need focus so it's very tiring to drive."

Heavy rains caused landslides that blocked the road at the end of March. Six feet of dirt covered nearly 100 feet of the roadway, which is now being repaired.

Another step toward reopening Round Top was taken yesterday when the state Department of Land and Natural Resources began removing 27 trees.

"We are actually working with the city, the state civil defense and FEMA to make sure we can move forward as fast as possible," said Peter Young, DLNR chairman.

Young said the first goal is for the state to stabilize the slope by the end of August and then the city will repair the roads, which could take two months.

DLNR received $4,375,000 in emergency funds from the Legislature to prevent landslides.

DLNR has removed 1,100 cubic yards, or 40 dump truck loads, of soil from the road and surrounding areas. After the trees are felled, contractors hired by the state will cut back a section of the slope to 45 degrees. The soil and cinder will be used at various city locations.

Erosion control nets and temporary concrete barriers will be installed, Young said.

Young said DNLR's second phase, after the city finishes its roadwork, will include working with a consultant to stabilize the slope in a more permanent way. The contractor will also add plants and other landscaping.

During the second phase, roads may temporarily be closed or reduced to one-lane traffic, Young said.

"Ultimately, it's going to make it safer and easier for people to get to their homes and obviously provides another alternative into this area so that in the case of an emergency there's immediate access," Young said.

Reach Robert Shikina at rshikina@honoluluadvertiser.com.