The opening of Kuhio Highway on the North Shore remains uncertain.
In an update on emergency repairs to the road damaged in the April flooding, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said Wednesday there have been “unavoidable extensions in the project schedule.”
Slope stabilization and roadway repairs needed to safely open Kuhio Highway past Anae Road (the Waikoko checkpoint) to two-way traffic will be substantially complete in April, according to HDOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.
“The limited-access convoy for Wainiha and Haena residents will continue to operate until such time as HDOT determines it is safe to allow access without it,” she wrote in an email.
It’s become an expensive repair job.
Total costs for the Kuhio Highway emergency repairs from the historic April flood is estimated at $77.2 million. About 90 percent of repair costs will be covered by the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program, which assists states with repair and/or reconstruction costs from extraordinary damage due to natural disasters.
Meanwhile, HDOT, in coordination with federal and county agencies continues the repair efforts on Kuhio Highway, Route 560. It reports that considerable progress has been accomplished since the April 14-15 severe-weather event, which produced about 50 inches of rain, possibly breaking the nationwide record for most rainfall in a single 24-hour period in recorded history.
Much of the highway was damaged, houses were destroyed and cars were washed away. For many, the recovery is far from over.
Some have called for the North Shore to remain off limits to visitors and suggested the checkpoints remain in place.
“Despite the state and county’s best efforts to repair the widespread damage as quickly as possible, on-going weather and environmental challenges, permit-issuance procedures, and production rates which have been significantly impacted by the need to accommodate traffic through the construction areas and other factors have led to unavoidable extensions in the project schedule,” Kunishige continued.
HDOT anticipates that slope stabilization and roadway repairs between Waikoko and Wainiha will be substantially complete in April.
Then, there will continue to be construction-related traffic impacts to complete the renovations to the Waioli, Waipa and Waikoko bridges, which are anticipated to be substantially complete in May, weather permitting.
HDOT could not give an estimated date of when the road might reopen to the public.
There was also extensive damage to Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, both of which remain closed to visitors.