KAAAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A half-mile section of Kamehameha Highway near the old Crouching Lion Inn is in the midst of major repair. At times the work backs up traffic in both directions. The state Department of Transportation is trying to minimize the inconvenience to motorists.
"You got to be patient. That's what it is. You have to be patient," driver Janet Young said.
The stop and go will last at least through the end of August and maybe into September, as long as it takes for the DOT to repair the makai lane that was cracking and eroding.
"If it was left untreated then we certainly could have lost the highway into the ocean which would have been the worst case scenario," DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara said.
The highway near the Crouching Lion is down to one lane. Repair crews aren't working round-the-clock but the one-lane restriction is 24/7. Sakahara said installing and removing steel plates to restore the highway to two lanes during off-work hours would increase the $5 million cost and make the work take longer.
Business owner Zondre Watson is anxious for it to end.
"The first month when they started work we lost almost $9,000," he said.
Sales at his chocolate shop are down 25 percent because people think the roadwork has shut him down. His store is next to the repair site.
"It's to the point now where I'm working seven days a week. I haven't been able to rehire two employees that I normally would have," he said.
The state put up a sign so people know Watson's store and a neighboring business are open. Meantime, to shorten wait times during peak traffic, DOT has a rover drive through the work zone and relay real-time updates.
"So if one direction is queueing up and we didn't expect it, then that rover will tell us and we'll keep it open, hopefully minimizing the traffic," Sakahara said.
The DOT estimates 15,000 residents live near the stretch of highway that's being repaired.
"If we did nothing, the long term impact would have been far worse than the temporary impact on the traffic right now," Sakahara said.