No parking zone created near popular Big Island lava tube

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Hawaii transportation crews are installing no parking signs and moving in concrete barriers to prevent cars from stopping along a Big Island highway to see a lava tube.

The Huehue lava tube on the side of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of the Kona airport has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, West Hawaii Today reported .

Kona-area motorists have reported unsafe conditions as visitors illegally cross the highway and cars pull onto the road. They have reported cars parked on both sides of the highway in the 55 mph (88 kph) zone.

State transportation officials said last summer they were unaware of the safety concerns until they were contacted by the newspaper.

Crews started installing the signs on both sides of the highway earlier this month, and they will place barriers on the lava tube side in coming weeks, said Shelly Kunishige, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. A no-trespassing sign will also be posted at the lava tube’s entrance.

“This is in response to concerns over the activities taking place in the area and the damage the unintended parking has caused to the highway shoulder,” Kunishige said.

The no parking signs are being placed along 1,000 feet (305 meters) of the shoulder on the lava tube side and along 600 feet (183 meters) on the other side. The concrete barriers will also run for 1,000 feet (183 meters).

Enforcement of the no parking and trespassing restrictions has been discussed with Big Island police, Kunishige said.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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