HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It could be a nightmare weekend for traffic as the Pali Highway will again be entirely shut down so crews can continue to work to stabilize hillsides that gave way Monday.
Kailua businesses say they’re worried the closure could translate to dips in sales.
“We’re really unsure on how that’s going to affect our business. We’re just going to wait and see and gauge it from there,” said Debbie Hopkins, owner of Global Village in Kailua.
In the 19 years Hopkins has had the shop, she can’t remember the last time the Pali Highway ― the main thoroughfare to Kailua ― was completely shut down.
“We want people to still know that we are still here and we are open for business seven days a week,” she said.
The good news: She’s noticed almost no change in business so far.
But her employees have been impacted in other ways.
Global Village manager Stacy Judd lives in Kapahulu and said the commute to work and back has been a bear with the Pali Highway fully or partially closed.
“That means getting up a lot earlier, more time in the car, more gas ― just allowing more time," she said.
Kakay Tarvyd, owner of Crepes No Ka Oi, said she hasn’t seen a decrease in sales.
But she knows firsthand what a pain the highway’s closure has been. Her commute from Kailua to Kahala, where the business has a second location, was three hours each day with the highway closed down.
But she did say the contraflow this week helped.
“Yesterday, when they did the contraflow, that was amazing," she said. "Whoever thought of that idea, it was perfect. It only took me 30 minutes to get to Kailua to Kahala Mall on the contraflow.”
“I think the way they planned it, where you go in and where you go out, I thought it was brilliant," she said.
The state Department of Transportation said it could take months to repair hillsides above the Honolulu-bound lanes of the highway. In the meantime, the agency is planning contraflows on weekdays ― and potentially complete closures on weekends to give crews extra time to work.
Here’s how the Monday through Friday contraflow works:
- Kaneohe-bound lanes of the Pali Highway is used for town-bound commuters.
- The morning contraflow runs from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- In the afternoons, starting at 3 p.m., Kaneohe-bound lanes are used for Kaneohe-bound traffic.
- For now, the afternoon contraflow runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then the highway is closed again.
The problems on the Pali Highway started Monday, when multiple landslides sent SUV-sized boulders and mounds of debris onto first the Kailua-bound and then the Honolulu-bound lanes of the thoroughfare.
In the days that followed, the situation worsened.
Large rocks continued to rain down onto the town-bound lanes, and the landslides also damaged portions of Old Pali Road, leaving slabs of concrete perched precariously overhead.