Hauula residents wonder if new erosion barrier will work

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Something different was added to Kamehameha Highway in Hauula this week that has many residents asking, “What’s that?”

After two weeks of emergency repairs, the state department of transportation crews is finishing their work in Hauula. However, the new erosion barriers they added have many Hauula residents wondering if they’ll work.  

“It looks very interesting,” said Hauula resident Derrick Pressley. “I’m sure the engineers know what they’re doing. It’s better now since January 4, when they started the project.”

Some residents took to social media to share their concerns on the temporary fix, posting photos of rocks in mesh nets on top of bigger boulders that are already on the beach.

“The concerns are, how long will it last? How sustainable is it against the coastal tides? And how will it be against the everyday road wear and tear of the heavy equipment that rolls across Kamehameha Highway on the North Shore?” Pressley asked.

The DOT said the Kwoya bags (or surge bags), are used extensively across Japan and they’ve also been used on Kuhio Highway on Kauai, and Kalanianaole Highway within the last two years.

“They’re tested to be UV resistant, and they’re put there to dissipate the wave energy,” explained DOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.

She said the bags are also porous, therefore if algae or sea life grow on it, it will be a supportive environment.

In the past, the DOT said it built seawalls in areas like Kaaawa, which some Hauula residents would like to see put in, however, the DOT said the surge bags won’t break apart as the walls did.

“These Kwoya bags take the energy of the wave and disperse it rather than transferring it to adjacent shorelines,” Kunishige explained.

Another community concern is the mesh material.

“From what I know, a lot of folks fish here daily and they use some type of spiking on their fishing poles and I think that may cut the nets and we may lose this barrier that’s a concern,” Pressley said.

“We appreciate the DOT getting down here under emergency circumstances and repairing this road, but I think as a community what we’re looking for is a stable, ongoing permanent solution,” he continued.

The DOT said Thursday would be the last night of the northbound lane closure.

Crews will continue to work seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to finish the 1,500-foot emergency shoreline repairs by Jan. 27.

The final part includes re-paving and adding guardrails or delineators.

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