Hawaii County unveils multi-year repair plans for damaged Waipio roadway

Residents now have a clearer picture on repair work that's set to begin in the coming months.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 4:19 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 28, 2022 at 7:12 PM HST
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WAIPIO VALLEY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii County announced its multi-year plans to repair Waipio Valley’s lone roadway and residents now have a clearer picture on repair work that’s set to begin in the coming months.

The steep and narrow one-lane stretch needs the work as analysis revealed rockfall hazards and overhanging vegetation along the way.

The entire project is scheduled to last three years.

Preliminary maintenance is slated for next month and phase one of the three-part project begins in spring 2023.

There will be full closures throughout, but the county is collaborating with residents on maintaining limited access.

“We do know that it’s gonna be an inconvenience at some point, especially for the residents and kalo farmers,” said Hawaii County public information officer Cyrus Johnasen. “But our intent really is to make sure that we are in line with their times and make sure that they can still get their crops up and down the valley, that kids can get to school, and so on and so forth.”

It’s welcome news for residents like Mahealani Maikui, who has been concerned about the project’s significant impact.

“That was one of the biggest things is getting the kalo farmers on a schedule, so they can work out the schedule with the kalo farmers and those who have to huki to bring up to the processors,” Maikui said.


Over the last eight months, the road has been an area of conflict as a lawsuit was filed, calling the closure illegal.

Shortly after, residents later formed a blockade at the valley’s entrance once rules were adjusted to allow access to limited tour groups and cultural practitioners.

Maikui says the road needs repairing, but is fearful of a potential long-term impact — a new road would attract more outside visitors.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword in the way that if we do make it all pretty and nani nani, that’s just gonna be more inviting for more it to have greater capacity for the road,” Maikui said.

However, that’s a conversation for down the road as right now, the county knows safety is the priority.

“There’s a lot of conversations around who can access and when they can access and how they can access,” Johnasen said. “That’s not a conversation that the county is leading. That’s a conversation the county is a part of, but for us right now, it’s creating a safe access for those who do need to get down there.”

While the full cost of the project is not yet known, the county has previously allocated more than $5.5 million, but the final total is expected to be higher.

For a link to the repair timeline, click here.