LIHUE — While two landslides have been cleaned from Kuhio Highway on the North Shore and traffic is flowing again, the state is planning some safety measures in the area.
After the road re-opened, crews remained to monitor conditions, and the site was inspected by structural and geotechnical experts.
“While there is no imminent threat, we plan to work on a slope stabilization project in the area,” said Tim Sakahara Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman.
Heavy rains caused two landslides in the same location on Friday morning, blocking Kuhio Highway between Wainiha and Lumahai with several tons of dirt, boulders and debris.
“A significant amount of the debris had been cleared on the first slide, when the second slide occurred once again blocking the roadway — the second slide was bigger than the first,” Sakahara said.
Rock scaling experts with Access Limited Construction were brought in to help with the rappel work to remove loose boulders in the hillside, Sakahara said.
Crews were able to contraflow traffic in one direction at a time beginning Saturday morning. The highway fully reopened in both lanes Sunday afternoon.
While HDOT says they have the landslide situation in hand on the North Shore, the Hawaii Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch doesn’t recommend swimming anywhere around Kauai.
A brown water advisory has been in effect for Kauai since Feb. 2 and CWB representatives say Kauai staff members spent Tuesday checking the quality around the island.
“What we’ll do is probably, as certain places clear up, we’ll try to take down the advisories for those locations,” said Myron Honda, CWB monitoring section supervisor.
He continued: “We like to keep it up for at least a couple days after the rain has stopped, and on Kauai it stops and starts up again and stops. We haven’t had several continuous days where the ocean had a chance to clean itself up.“
Forecasters with the National Weather Service point to probable showers throughout the upcoming week, with rain in the forecast every day through Tuesday.
That means more runoff could be in the wings, adding to the waters coming out of the mountains already, which could contain sewage from cesspools, pesticides from yards and chemicals from industrial areas.
“It originates in the mountains and carries everything else down from parking lots and backyards and streets,” Honda said. “Lots of things come into play.”
Sharks are another hazard, because the animals are attracted to turbid and murky waters as well as the smell of decomposition.
“It’s something to watch out for even though it’s not pollution related,” Honda said. “People with open wounds should also think about not getting in the water and rinsing off after if they do.”