Pali Highway Traffic Contraflowed

by Paul Drewes

NUUANU PALI (KHNL) - Commuters from the Windward side of Oahu will have a slow drive to Honolulu on the Pali Highway.  Traffic will be contraflowed at least through noon.

Heavy rains caused a landslide Tuesday morning.  Some drivers were stuck inside the Pali tunnel.   Many more were stranded in rush hour traffic.

Crews spent all day Tuesday cleaning up the tons of mud and rocks on both directions of the road.

"The trucks and the dozers were moving all day, there was a quite a bit of material" says the State Department of Tranportation's Brennon Morioka.

While crews have cleared much of the mud from the road, the main concerns now are trees perched precariously above the highway.

"There's a lot of trees up there that could come down, that's why the tunnels are still closed we need a sufficient work area to remove the trees."

Department of Transportation spokesperson Scott Ishikawa says contraflow lanes will be set up until at least noon.  Consultants will inspect the slope and decide if the rain soaked hillside is safe for drivers.

There have been other rock falls for the Pali highway before but this massive mud slide not only took out part of the hillside, it also took the state by surprise.

"We cannot remember when we had a slide in this specific area. We've had rock falls along other portions of the tunnel areas, but this was one area we didn't think was prone to landslides." says Morioka.

The traffic troubles are not only for Oahu drivers, on the Garden Isle, Kauai police have closed the Hanalei bridge after the Hanalei river began to rise. That bridge connects Hanalei town to the rest of the island.