City to spend $20M to shore up severe erosion problems in Palolo

Updated: Feb. 21, 2019 at 12:12 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is planning major fixes for the severe erosion problems in Palolo, which will cost up to $20 million.

In recent months, the city has closed off Kuahea Street and has acquired three homes damaged by the sliding hillside.

Over the next several years, the city said it plans to build retaining walls and drive pilings under Kuahea Street and under the homes it acquired.

“It’s not practical for us to maintain that area of Kuahea Street anymore,” said Robert Kroning, director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

The properties acquired so far cost the city about $750,000 each and another home purchase is underway. Beyond that, additional condemnations are not planned, Kroning said.

“When we stabilize the earth on the properties we acquire, that should relieve a lot of the earth movement,” he said.

Kroning blames heavy rains for the recent problems.

“The situation has gotten worse (because) the earth is moving more than it has before, which is mostly caused by rain," he said.

But some residents believe the city is partly to blame.

They said the ground is saturated with water from a Board of Water Supply line, which gets broken repeatedly with the shifting earth.

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

They said the underground water has created sinkholes under their homes, which threatens their foundations.

“Nine breaks in the month of November alone and all of that water is pouring into what is considered natural land movement,” said Laurie Chivers, a longtime Palolo resident.

“Our biggest fear is this whole street is either going to collapse or just come sliding down into Waiomao Road. We’re going to lose our homes."

Several residents said they want the city to pay for damages to their homes or buy them out.

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