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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

State begins cleanup of Round Top Drive

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state is now removing debris from a portion of Round Top Drive that has been closed since late March when heavy rains caused a series of mudslides across the roadway.

The work is expected to be completed Oct. 31. Then city officials will inspect the roadway to determine if the street can be reopened.

Round Top Drive has been closed near the 2800 block since late March when the hillside eroded during the storms and sent mud, trees and other debris across the roadway. The road is owned by the city, but the state is responsible for the hillside.

On Thursday, the Department of Land and Natural Resources began removing the debris and expects that work to be completed by Friday. Beginning Monday and lasting through Aug. 11, the state will remove downed trees and other trees that pose possible hazards in the construction area.

The state will then cut back a portion of the eroded slope and install temporary concrete jersey barriers. That work is expected to be completed on Aug. 25. Once the state is done, the city will repair four damaged sections of the roadway. A state official said the work should begin on Sept. 1 and be completed on Oct. 31. The state will then return to improve slope stability and revegetate and landscape the area. That work may require temporary road closures, the state said.

The road closure has been an inconvenience to many Round Top and Tantalus Drive residents who have had to take the long route to get home. Emergency vehicles also have been delayed because of the closure.

On July 6, police and ambulances were forced to take the winding Tantalus Drive to get to a scenic lookout where three people were shot and killed. Police said their response time was delayed several minutes because of the detour.

John Steelquist, a Tantalus Drive resident and chairman of the area's neighborhood board, said yesterday that he was pleased that the work has begun.

"The city and the state are working well together and focusing on what needs to be done," Steelquist said.

On March 22, heavy rains caused a landslide that covered 100 feet of roadway with dirt piled 6 feet high. The road was reopened later that day, but two days later another mudslide closed Round Top Drive again. The last major mudslide occurred on March 31 when mud and black sand covered the roadway more than 3 feet deep.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.