Kailua businesses thrilled Pali Highway open on Saturdays again

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — November 9 marked the first day in months that Pali Highway was open on a Saturday.

The highway has been closed off and on for repairs after a section of Old Pali Road fell onto Pali Highway on Feb. 18, 2019.

The highway still has work to be done, the Department of Transportation originally anticipated the highway to open by the end of the summer, but that was pushed back.

The closure has impacted several businesses in Kailua.

Many business owners said weekends were their busiest days, but with Pali Highway being closed on Saturdays many businesses were hit hard.

“Saturday it used to be [our busiest day], it has not been obviously for a long time so today’s the first one back open so we’re hoping for a good day,” said Ali McMahon, owner of Olive Boutique in Kailua.

This month marks 11 years since McMahon has owned her store.

“Since February, we’ve done about half of our business so it’s really hurt us,” she said. “But we’ve held in with the idea that the Pali is going to open back up and business will be back to normal fingers crossed.”

“It’s been absolutely horrible,” said Amerjit Ghag, owner of Island Bungalow Hawaii.

“It was like business just came to a screeching halt the minute the Pali closed,” she said.

She said tour busses stopped coming, people didn’t want to sit in traffic, and the hours weren’t ideal for shopping, eating or going to the beach for the day.

“When the Pali was open, understandably it was open for people on the windward side to be able to come and go to town for work and that sort of thing,” she explained. “It wasn’t really open for people in town to come and play or to work on the windward side—it just wasn’t that convenient.”

Ghag also said it used to take her 12 minutes to get from Nuuanu to Kailua.

“During the closure, it could take me anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour one way,” she said.

But on Saturday, there were many people shopping and coming in and out of stores. It’s unknown if it was due to the Veteran’s Day three-day weekend or because of the highway being open.

“We definitely saw a slow down so we’re super excited that the Pali is open now and we’re looking forward to everybody coming back to Kailua and enjoying not just the beach, but also the food and the shopping,” Ghag said.

Pali Highway will be open in both directions on the weekends starting at 5 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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