Kailua residents say city to blame for growing sinkhole that’s threatening homes

Sinkhole in Keolu Hills threatens nearby homes

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A sinkhole in a Kailua’s Keolu Hills neighborhood looked pretty routine at first. But nearly a year later, one former Kailua Neighborhood Board member says homes are being threatened by a growing underground reservoir.

“It’s been miserable for the neighborhood,” said Kailua resident and former Kailua Neighborhood Board member Vern Hinsvark.

“Doors won’t open, a sidewalk has slid in front of the house and the one has had major ... repair work to the rock wall.”

Hinsvark believes the sinkhole has since grown larger than the original 15-foot wide by 12-foot deep crater because it was caused by water that became trapped beneath the neighborhood.

When it was first reported in October 2018, the Kailua sinkhole was 12 feet deep by 15 feet wide. Now, construction on the sinkhole encompasses a signficant segment of the Kanapuu Drive neighborhood.
When it was first reported in October 2018, the Kailua sinkhole was 12 feet deep by 15 feet wide. Now, construction on the sinkhole encompasses a signficant segment of the Kanapuu Drive neighborhood. (Source: None)

A few weeks after the the sinkhole was reported, Hinsvark said he examined a nearby culvert and found that it had become blocked, trapping water.

“There was debris in there, rocks ― rocks 3 feet high ― and three stumps,” he said.

“And I realized that was stopping the water from flowing through.”

He said that had the city properly maintained the culvert, there wouldn’t be a sinkhole.

But city officials have said they believe the culvert was damaged by heavy rains.

They said they were not aware that the sinkhole has gotten worse but acknowledge that the fixes are taking longer than it expected.

“We’ve encountered much harder subsurface conditions, which has slowed the project down some," said Robert Kroning, director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

The project initially was supposed to be done in four months but will now take about 20 months. The final cost estimate won’t be available until the project is done.

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