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 firstname.lastname@example.org.