HANALEI — A protest of one stopped the state’s preliminary work on a North Shore bridge Monday morning.
A man showed up at the Waioli Bridge about 6 a.m., where crews were doing some staging of equipment for the bridge’s repairs. The man left the bridge to let the first convoy through.
Larry Dill, Hawaii Department of Transportation engineer, was called and arrived to talk with the man, who agreed to continue the discussion in Hanalei while work stopped. About 30 people showed up at the courthouse to join the discussion.
Dill said they talked about a number of things, including concerns with changing the character of the one-lane bridge, and accommodating residents using the convoy coming and going from the North Shore area severely damaged by April’s flooding.
More preliminary bridge work was scheduled this week, but HDOT agreed to suspend that until after a community meeting set for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Camp Naue. HDOT plans to provide an update on the Kuhio Highway emergency repairs and the convoy schedule for limited local access to Wainiha and Haena.
The delay of work affects all three bridges that are to be replaced or rebuilt: Waioli, Waipa and Waikoko. At each site, contractor personnel were supposed to be staging equipment and materials to begin work on the projects.
Dill said late Monday afternoon he is going to talk to his contractor about getting the construction completed and meeting the needs of the people.
“We’re weighing all those needs right now and trying to figure out the best way to do it,” he said. “We’ll discuss ideas at the meeting on Friday night and be soliciting ideas from the public there as well.”
HDOT has officially projected October for reopening of Kuhio Highway beyond Hanalei, but the extent of the damage and engineering complexity of the repairs may result in further delay. Large sections of the highway were washed out in the flooding caused by epic rainfall.
The entire area is closed to non-residents under an emergency order signed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
Meantime, Haena and Wainiha residents have been coming and going via scheduled convoys.
The state Department of Transportation has circulated a draft plan to reduce the number of convoy runs to escort residents of the Haena-Wainiha area over the closed portion of Kuhio Highway and told community leaders the highway may close completely on weekends for six to nine weeks.
Many were not happy to hear of the possible changes that could make it harder for them to leave and return.
Another issue that’s been mentioned: The National Guard, which has been maintaining Kuhio Highway security on the North Shore during the repairs, will pull out at some point. When that happens, someone will have to take over that role.