The Hawaii Department of Transportation is moving forward with repair plans on Kamehameha Highway near Kaaawa.
Traffic has been contraflowed near Kaaawa Valley Road and Kanenelu Beach since Thursday evening, when the damage was discovered. The state Department of Transportation confirmed Friday that the shoulder of the highway was undermined by high surf, which damaged some of the asphalt and a guardrail.
Crews put boulders near the ocean to prevent further erosion.
Beginning Saturday, Feb. 13, crews will remove the damaged asphalt and guardrail, fill the area with controlled low strength material (CLSM), install a new guardrail and repave the roadway.
To expedite the repairs, crews will work from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, including the Presidents’ Day holiday. Work is estimated to be finished within a week.
The immediate repairs will allow two-way traffic to be restored right away, while HDOT continues to work on long-term improvements.
The northbound, or makai lane, on Kamehameha Highway will remain closed 24 hours a day, and traffic will continue to be contraflowed in the southbound, or mauka lane, until the repairs are finished.
Windward Oahu resident Mike Sasaki remembers camping in the area.
“Used to have sand probably 10 feet out, all the way down the shoreline and these trees used to be all up against the road,” he said.
Now there’s hardly any room to walk on the beach. Over the years, the shoreline has changed, the state says, because of erosion from the constant pounding of the waves.
That’s what happened again in Kaaawa. Two chunks of the road are now gone because of Mother Nature.
KHON2 was there when crews visited the site again Friday, trying to figure out what to do next.
“Repaint them and we might have to veer over to the mauka direction a little bit,” said state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.
“What do you tell people who might be asking why didn’t you do this in the first place to prevent that from happening?” KHON2 asked.
“Well the road was good before this,” Sakahara said. “Until this high surf came in, the road was very good and it’s always inspected.”
Last year, the DOT fixed another portion of the highway, just a half-mile down the road. It’s an issue that’s been going on for years, with no long-term solution for the shoreline.
“Just last year, we shored up another section of Kaaawa,” Sakahara said.
“Can you be more specific as to what you’ve been doing in the past year and a half to resolve this problem?” KHON2 asked.
“We’ve put in measures to address at least funding some of our plans. As you know the coastline is pretty vast,” said Rep. Feki Pouha, R, Haleiwa, Kahuku, Kaaawa.
The state says long-term solutions would begin in a few years, but this recent damage could expedite plans.
“It could be repaving, but it also could be like shoring it up, the asphalt and the surface underneath, making it stronger and adding materials that are really going to boost the infrastructure,” Sakahara said.
“Hopefully they fix the road. Otherwise it will be painful for the Crouching Lion, Hauula to Punaluu people,” Sasaki said.
The public is urged to drive with caution in the area. A police officer will direct traffic 24 hours a day as long as the single lane closure is necessary. Priority will be granted to emergency vehicles.
Drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible. Those on Oahu’s windward side or the North Shore may want to consider going through Honolulu and Wahiawa to reach their destination.