Road Closure Delays Frustrate Tantalus Residents

Beverly Davis
Beverly Davis

TANTALUS (KHNL) - Round Top Drive has been closed since March of last year, when heavy rains caused a portion of the Makiki mountain to slide. After a massive clean-up and two re-open dates already scrapped, the announcement of another delay Monday has residents complaining.

It was scheduled to reopen in May. The deadline was then pushed back to September. Now folks who live up on Tantalus will have to wait some more.

A landslide back in March of last year shut down this stretch of Round Top Drive. It's forced residents to drastically change their commuting habits.

"The people just above us, I think, they're going eight miles around the hill, instead of two, two miles down the hill," said Beverly Davis, who lives just below the road closure.

She's never seen a delay like this.

"It hasn't been closed for any length of time since we've lived here, not longer than a couple of weeks, and we've been here 39 years," she said.

Part of the problem is major cracks on the road. For now, they're covered by this metal panel.

Another concern is this retaining wall. It's eroded over time, which means this house down below could be in danger.

"We have concern for if the wall were to fail or if parts of the wall were to fall off," said Eugene Lee, director of the department of design and construction for the City and County of Honolulu. "So, really it's a safety issue besides a simple road restoration project."

So this setback pushes the completion date all the way to December. The city's working with the state, which owns the land surrounding the road. This further delay means more frustration for Tantalus residents on the other side of the road closure.

"I think that they'll be surprised and complaining more now that they hear it's going to be longer," said Davis.

Other residents said it's not only an inconvenience; it's also a traffic hazard with twice as many cars on the windy road.

City officials say the problem is two-folds: parts had to ordered from the mainland, and they had to wait for FEMA funding, which prevented the project from even starting until January, nine months after the road closure.