Detour taking toll

  • photo submitted by Patricia Rouen This photo shows the potholes in the detour road around the sinkhole in Kahiliholo Road.

KILAUEA — For seven months, residents on Kauai’s North Shore have been using a one-mile-long, pitted detour from Kuhio Highway to Kahiliholo Road to get in and out of their homes.

And it’s impacting more than just a few people.

“There are over 180 units in the Kalihiwai Ridge Homeowners Association, and of course most units have more than one individual living there,” said resident Patricia Rouen. “Those lucky few at the bottom of Kahiliholo Road before the culvert collapse have access to the highway. But for the rest of us the only access in and out is the detour road.”

Their main access road was closed after April floods broke a culvert under Kahiliholo Road and triggered a sinkhole that ate up part of the pavement. Repairs won’t be complete on the road until February, and preliminary work on the project is underway.

Residents are getting restless, as they haven’t seen any action on the project and said they hadn’t received updates on construction.

“Don’t forget about us over here,” Rouen said. “There’s a lot of talk about the North Shore, which definitely needs rebuilding, but we were hit by the flood, too.”

Field investigations and surveys have been conducted by the contractor, but resident Allan Lamb said he hasn’t seen any progress toward opening up the area’s only access road, either.

“We’re looking at almost 12 months that we’ll have been without proper access,” said Lamb.

In order to get Kahiliholo Road up to par for vehicles, a precast concrete box culvert has to be installed, the county said. Then the road itself can be repaired and resurfaced.

Acting County Engineer Lyle Tabata said demolition in the area should start in early December, the box culvert should arrive on Kauai by mid-December, and the road should open with a temporary surface in mid-February 2019.

“The contractor is currently in the process of mobilizing equipment to the site,” Tabata said. “The contractor’s current schedule shows the road being open on a temporary wearing surface around mid-February 2019. It should be noted that rain delays or other factors could cause this schedule to change somewhat.”

While their main access road is closed, residents are driving a dirt detour road they say isn’t handling the amount of traffic it’s hosting very well.

The county has the detour on its list to re-grade this week, but Rouen and Lamb said roadwork repairs only last about a week on the detour road before it’s once again taken over by potholes.

“I’ve scraped the bottom of my car on the potholes. It’s an SUV,” Rouen said. “They’re as wide as the detour road and filled with mud so you can’t see how deep they are.”

Lamb added: “I don’t think the county is aware of how much traffic really uses that detour. It’s a lot of wear and tear on that dirt road and the rain deteriorates it so fast.”

The detour road is maintained by the county every three to four weeks, Tabata said, and crews are working in the Kilauea district.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at

  1. IKUDIAS November 20, 2018 6:26 am Reply

    Let’s get this road fixed!!! How long will these Agricultural lots be accessed by a “farm” road?
    This road is not capable of handling all the traffic of construction workers, landscapers, pool & other maintenance personel traveling this road on a daily basis, not to mention all the additional traffic when the owners arrive for the holidays, and the paying customers who reside here for a week or two in between?

  2. coolio November 20, 2018 6:27 am Reply

    This is a joke right? I have seen the damage and it could be repaired quickly…Someone actually has to do it…It should have been done long ago…Planning department and engineers get off your butts and actually do something for Kilauea…Ridiculous…

  3. PATRIOT November 20, 2018 11:51 am Reply

    The article fails to address the degradation of Kuawa Road which receives traffic to and from the detour road. Kuawa Road is a 14 feet wide paved private road with a posted speed limit of 15 mph that was designed to accommodate approximately 40 homes in the Kilauea Plantation Subdivision. The County from the onset has been very limited in their maintenance of reoccurring potholes and damaged shoulders on and along Kuawa Road.

    Safety has also become an issue. A few motorist entering or exiting the detour road will speed through Kuawa Road in a mad dash to get to their destination putting pedestrians and other motorist at risk.

    What’s going to ultimately happen when Kahiliholo Road is fixed and residents of Kilauea Plantation Subdivision are left with a destroyed road? I hope the owner of Kuawa Road holds the County of Kauai accountable for damages Kuawa Road has incurred. Totally unacceptable!

  4. MisterM November 20, 2018 12:40 pm Reply

    Why don’t local residents chip in and maintain the road? A few loads of gravel and spread by a loader would cost a few grand. But maybe $100 per unit is “too much”? Smh.

  5. ikauai November 20, 2018 2:26 pm Reply

    Why is there no mention* of Kuawa Road’s deterioration from its use as an “emergency detour road” between Kuhio Highway and 4912 B, CG REAL ESTATE LLC & LOT 13-B-13 KILAUEA PLANTATION SUBD ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY the former “Common Ground”, before that “Guava Kai Plantation” property a C. Brewer Company?
    * Maybe there’s no mention is due to the fact that when C. Brewer Enterprises sold the property a covenant for the road to be upgraded to County standards was contingent on the sale but that was never upheld.

  6. Gabrielle Savage November 20, 2018 4:37 pm Reply

    OMG! You would think there is only one road crew for this entire island. WHAT IS THE HOLD UP? WHY ISN’T THIS BEING PRIORITIZED? There is a little known harmful domino effect to the residents on Kuawa Road, a private tiny farm road that was made part of the detour for the Kalihiwai residents. We are very sympathetic to their plight, and want the road fixed almost as much as they do. However, we’d be even more sympathetic if they and all the working trucks/service people would obey the 15mph speed limit and stop racing through our neighborhood. We have pedestrians, horses, dogs, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals on the road, too, and all this additional traffic is not only disturbing but dangerous. The use of Kuawa Rd has jumped from approx. 60 cars per day to approx. 1000 cars per day. We’ve counted. We’ve witnessed the rude, fast drivers on our tiny private farm road, the speeders and people who litter. We’ve also witnessed very considerate drivers, albeit few and far between. We’ve heard of animals being killed because of this excess traffic. So, let’s continue to unite as a community and see to it that the County gets going on this, for crying out loud! A very affordable bridge from the Army Corps of Engineers could have been provided 6 months ago to go over this gap! Why wasn’t this done? Keep calling the County!

  7. AVCWBCOACH November 20, 2018 10:44 pm Reply

    Your comments can be as dramatic as you want. YES, the County of Kauai is overwhelmed. They can’t say that due to sue happy people ,moving here. People that don’t go to neighborhood meetings, talk to their government officials, they just grumble and try to make what they think is worst case scenario, because they say so, top priority. Even before the floods it took like a year for the PUBLIC restrooms to be repaired properly, they are still overwhelmed down there. Salt Pond restrooms, some of which were bust up by people who are there constantly, makes no sense. But, not an excuse to not get restrooms back up asap. ASAP is a relative word before the floods. Look how long it has taken to get the Pier at Hanalei and the road/convoy solved. Every person who is writing these demanding letters needs to be part of the solutions, have more patience and communicate humanely. This will all get better, but in Kauai time, whether you individuals like it or not!

  8. PATRIOT November 21, 2018 8:32 am Reply

    $100 per unit is a small price to pay. Better alternative is a gate goes up and County finds an alternate route for Kahiliholo. The increased traffic has degraded this road even further and become a safety hazard. When all is said and done, the residents of this small community will be left high and dry.

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