Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 7:20 p.m., Saturday, April 7, 2007

Only road through North Shore closed through Sunday

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

WAIMEA — Kamehameha Highway through Waimea Bay will be closed in both directions at least through Sunday due to a massive rockslide, state transportation officials said.

No one was injured, but a driver tried to cross the debris after the slide and damaged his Ford truck, which remained stuck in the rubble this morning.

The slide occurred around 1 a.m. on the Sunset Beach side of Waimea Bay, said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

Tons of boulders — some of them the size of small cars — were partially captured by three, 15-foot-wide metal sections of rockfall fencing that had been erected after a 2000 landslide in nearly the identical spot along the mountainside.

The 2000 rockslide divided the North Shore for 95 days by disrupting commutes and hurting North Shore businesses, which saw a drop in tourism traffic.

This morning's slide sent several smaller boulders bouncing across Kamehameha Highway and some crashed into a metal light pole, twisting it like a bendable straw.

Most of the fence, however, prevented tons of rocks from crashing down onto the road, Ishikawa said.

A 50-yard shelf of the mountain apparently gave way, Ishikawa said, leaving a swatch of light brown among darker, older rock.

Half a dozen Civil Defense volunteers were on either side of the rockslide this morning telling drivers that Kamehameha is closed.

City bus routes around the area also have been rerouted until further notice, said John Cummings, spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management, formerly the city's Civil Defense agency.

"There was a lot of debris, and pieces came through the bottom of the fencing," he said.

The North Shore has had dry weather following heavy rains, which "tends to loosen everything up," Cummings said.

This morning, surfers, beachgoers, residents, and workers at the nearby Turtle Bay resort were forced to leave their cars on one side of the closed road, walk across a beach and try to get rides on the other side.

Department of Emergency Management and state transportation crews responded overnight to the rockslide but had to wait until sunrise to fully assess the extent of the damage and estimate how long the road would be closed.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.