After rockfall, state reopens key North Shore highway but intermittent closures still needed
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State crews reopened Kamehameha Highway near Waimea Bay on Sunday evening following a rockslide that triggered a day-long assessment and clean-up effort.
Hawaii Department of Transportation’s Director, Ed Sniffen said several boulders slid from a mountain slope to the right of Kamehameha Highway around 6 a.m. Sunday.
Three boulders were caught by a concrete barrier, but one jumped the rail and landed on the roadway.
DOT said intermittent road closures will be needed to bring down loose material. Traffic holds will be scheduled outside of peak travels times and should not be longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Sniffen said following the rockfall, a team was sent up to assess the situation and bring down loose materials. As the team scaled the slope, three more unstable boulders fell onto the highway.
“The big concern right now, you can see behind me there’s a rockfall outcropping where the boulders came from,” said Sniffen. “And in that area, it looks like there’s some some destabilized material.”
No one was injured from the incident.
This isn’t the first time a rockslide shut down the highway in the area.
A large rockslide happened in the same area in 2000.
A similar incident happened in 2007, when a series of boulders as big as cars fell and crushed protective fencing along Kamehameha Highway.
Sniffen said that the heavy rainfall this weekend and the heavy rain from the previous weekend created a perfect storm for a rockslide to occur.
He said they plan to extend the rockfall barrier another 70 feet to help avoid future rockslides.
Some residents support the idea.
“Probably a very good idea at this point, because it’s the second time, same spot,” said Jonathan Fisher of Waialua. “And it’s just past it, it’s just on the other side so it’s probably a good idea.”
“There’s more possibilities for more of this to happen,” said Manny Diaz of Waialua. “So, you got to take a look at it from both angles, but I put that in the powers that be.”
In the meantime, they plan on putting up a concrete barrier wall with stackable eco-blocks that will be there in the interim to help protect the roadways while they continue their work on the slope.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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