Safety concerns about crumbling North Shore highway grow amid emergency repairs

A closer look shows severity of erosion along Kamehameha Highway in Hauula

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lane of Kamehameha Highway in Hauula remains closed Monday morning as crews make emergency shoreline repairs to the crumbling roadway.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation said an area north of Pokiwai Bridge will remain closed until further notice. Crews will conduct work that protects the safety of the highway.

Officials say a portion of the shoulder collapsed and was reported late Friday.

The fallen area is described as 12 feet long, and the road is 6 feet above the beach. Inspection of the roadway indicates that the shoulder is undercut for approximately 20 feet in both directions, the state Transportation Department said.

“We determined that we’re going to excavate the material near the roadway, rip out the portions of pavement that have been undercut, backfill in those areas with lean mix concrete and put either an cobble and boulder fill or a gravel-filled sack to ensure that we don’t get any erosion of the roadway in the future,” said Ed Sniffen, of the state Transportation Department.

A contraflow has been set up since early Sunday to allow traffic in the area. Work to fix about 270 feet of the eroded shoulder started Sunday and will last through Friday.

Crews will be tackling repairs from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. During that time the makai lane will be closed and traffic in both directions will be allowed through contraflow.

Previous repairs just south of the impacted area took place in April 2019 at a cost of $85,000. The area where the April repairs were conducted was between Hulahula Place and Pokiwai Place.

Residents are concerned over the safety of the crumbling roadway.

“It was worse than I thought,” said Riana, a Hauula resident. “I felt like anyone just steps over in that area, you’re going to fall in or someone is going to get hurt.”

Residents say they saw cracks on the highway before it crumbled into the water.

"Those cracks were widening, slowly widening open and getting bigger," said resident Roger Woodall.

Longtime Hauula resident and owner of Hauula Gift Shop Fawwaz Jubran says he saw cracks widening for weeks.

“Cracks on the concrete pavement, the asphalt on the side of the road, 3 to 5 feet from the edge of the water and it was getting to a dangerous stage,” he said.

He says the traffic jam on Saturday impacted his business. With constant erosion and pounding surf, he's worried this latest fix could just be a band aid.

"Every time there is a serious erosion because of big waves currents to the shoreline, it's usually a band aid fix up," said Jubran.

"Officials should really look at building a solid concrete wall to prevent any major waves to damage the side of the road as frequent as it does," he added.

While others worry it could have been worse.

“Someone’s tire hitting it and sending them off into the water, rocks and everything into the water. It could be bad,” said Woodall.

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