Road reopening still contentious topic

HAENA — These days, the topic of reopening the road leading from Hanalei to Wainiha, the section of Kuhio Highway from Waikoko to Wainiha, which has been under construction since the April 2018 floods, can be a delicate one.

Recovery has been the main focus of the residents impacted by the flooding, which resulted in multiple landslides, damaged homes, and has essentially isolated local residents from the rest of the island for the past year.

Preparing for reopening of the road and what should be done after it happens were topics of discussion Wednesday night at Opakapaka Grill and Bar, in Haena, during the Hanalei Haena Community Association meeting. Vice president of HHCA, Joel Guy, hosted the meeting.

Though some are ready to move forward and let the public and traffic back in, for others opening the road by the end of April is nothing short of alarming. Some refer to the situation as “opening the flood gates.”

Nancy Chandler, whose family has been living in the small, North Shore community for many generations, is against the plans to open the road by the set date for safety reasons. “It’s unsafe. Don’t rush it, just because people want to see it.”

When it comes to the actual roads in Wainiha and Haena, Chandler says there’s a lot of road work to be done. Past the construction zone between the Waikoko and Wainiha checkpoints, which is traveled through via the convoy system, Chandler says: “The size of the roads are too narrow, too muddy and they’re eroding away. They’re not maintaining the roads here. It’s the same as usual. They shouldn’t be shoving that date down our throats. The roads won’t be ready.”

Michael Ventura said thoughtful and careful leadership is crucial; to look at the whole picture to properly address all of Kauai’s needs and the North Shore’s properly. A lack of careful planning, Ventura explains, has resulted in what he believes is a poor decision to reopen the road by the end of next month, which he says is too soon.

“We need discipline. They don’t think deeply,” he said.

Ventura added, “We’re too attached to materialism. We have to focus on each issue one at a time.” Things that need to be focused on include, Ventura says, “the wellbeing of the planet, the community, the roads.” All should be made a priority.

One woman suggested that all visitors should be required to take the shuttle to visit the area, with no tourist cars allowed. A majority of the 50 people who attended in the room agreed, clapped and cheered. Island residents would be able to drive in and out, but it was also suggested that residents be encouraged to take the shuttle as well.

Guy added that the shuttle would be beneficial to residents needing to go to work and do other activities, and would likely be a beneficial change for the community even if it was a bit of an adjustment for other people. “That’s a good idea. And, we need to change our behavior pattern to make that happen,” he said.

As far as the shuttle is concerned, Guy said that it is “ready to move forward,” and that grant money has been obtained through the emergency relief fund for the effort.

Guy, who is also part of the nonprofit The Hanalei Initiative, which with county support has been organizing and preparing to get the shuttle underway by the end of next month. They also are currently in the process of searching for shuttle operators.

The state Department of Transportation has not yet reached a final decision regarding implementation of the shuttle system, and currently does not know if the shuttle will be operating by the time the road reopens. The shuttle is expected to begin with a limited route by this summer.

Repairs to the section of highway from Waikoko to Wainiha, as well as drainage improvements at Lumahai, will be complete upon reopening of the road. Projects to be completed after the reopening, according to DOT, include the completion of the Waioli, Waipa and Waikoko bridges, as well as the Limahuli and Manoa crossings.

The DOT plans to rebuild the crossings to be similar to their original designs previous to the flood, and is currently waiting for approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Another major project important to a majority of community members is, according to HHCA, preferably before reopening, the highway past Wainiha and beyond must be paved. Repaving is not currently part of the construction schedule.

There is also a desire by residents to have a temporary period of time where the Haena and Wainiha will remain accessible to local residents only after roadwork is completed. This would give residents additional time to adapt to reintroducing visitors and other residents into the area and reduce traffic temporarily.

No parking signs have not been ordered by DOT, and people at the gathering expressed that as a necessity in order to reduce and mitigate traffic.

There have been suggestions by community members in the past to help reduce traffic and parking congestion via use of tow-away zones along the highway, with a goal to provide safe passage for two-lane traffic including bicyclists, pedestrians and emergency responders.

HHCA welcomed the public to participate in a survey completed Thursday. The goal of the survey is to serve as a tool to gather input from local residents regarding reopening of the road and other factors affecting the well-being of the community. At least 100 people participated in the survey online.


Monique Rowan is a lifelong North Shore resident who writes periodically for The Garden Island.

  1. Imua44 March 9, 2019 5:52 am Reply

    Roads are public. Owned by everyone. A shuttle is a good idea. Where do the riders park? Better be nice to Pville. Or else you park by Waioli. We are all equal. Time for NS to relaize that. I dont like traffic on my road. Who does

  2. Kauaidoug March 9, 2019 6:57 am Reply

    I don’t live up there but until everything is in place do not rush it. You have one chance to do this right.

  3. Michael J. Trussel March 9, 2019 7:54 am Reply

    Count 2 more votes for a shuttle and no visitor car access. My wife Debbie and I have visited Kauai many times and it is heartbreaking to think visitors care so little of maintaining the island’s beauty

  4. manongindashadow0711 March 9, 2019 9:07 am Reply

    When the road reopen, leave it as is(local traffic only) and cyclists/pedestrians. No other motor vehicles.

  5. Joe March 9, 2019 10:35 am Reply

    Oh, the contentious few again…

    Truth: a small contingency of Haena residents want it ALL to themselves. They would prefer if us residents and visitors go to other places. Meanwhile, the rest of the taxpaying public has watched ~$100M be spent on repairing “their” road. Guess what Haena, you don’t live in a private, gated community. Everyone has a fundamental right to go to Haena. Everyone.

    The road is plenty safe. Nothing is 100% safe.

    Yes on a shuttle system and thank you to brave people like Mr. Guy who are seeking SOLUTIONS. Open it already and stop pandering to the vocal minority.

  6. paulot March 9, 2019 10:53 am Reply

    The road and parking should be available to island residents only. We’ve been squeezed out of our favorite places for too long. Off island visitors should come in on the shuttle only.

    1. Baduck March 9, 2019 7:11 pm Reply


  7. Uncleaina March 9, 2019 10:56 am Reply

    The residents up there seem to forget that it’s OUR island! Sounds like they want to turn it into Disneyland with shuttles and remote parking lots. Just because you own a house in Haena doesn’t mean you should control access to Ke’e! And as a resident who used to just drive in a park in the bushes, there is no way I’m taking a shuttle bus to drive me down roads my taxes pay for, just because some rich people up there like less traffic.

    1. Baduck March 9, 2019 7:26 pm Reply

      It is not the rich people but a small contingent of NIMBYs most of which are not even land owners there.

  8. Susan Murphy March 9, 2019 12:18 pm Reply

    I have been coming to Kauai since 1973 when my husband represented the Taylor family in the State’s condemnation of Taylor Camp which created Haena State Park. On my trip this year I missed being able to go down to the area past Hanalei, but noted that the congestion and ‘over tourism’ of the area makes me consider finding some other place to go to capture the beauty that is the North Shore.

    I agree with resident Michael Ventura about the County focusing on the bigger issues including things that need to be done to protect what makes Kauai such a special place from its overuse by tourism. I understand that the island is dependent upon this industry, but in my estimation it is now part of the problem. I know that this is economically an issue due to the loss of sugar and other agricultural jobs.

    As for a shuttle – I have no problem with the idea, but where are the tourist’s cars going to park to use the shuttle?? There is no room in Hanalei or for that matter in Princeville for tourists to park and then take a shuttle. Before that idea is embraced as a way to limit access to Haena someplace needs to be found for parking of tourist’s cars.

    1. Baduck March 9, 2019 7:27 pm Reply

      Parking tentatively by the market in Princeville.

  9. tooindependent March 9, 2019 12:50 pm Reply

    wow… the suggestive want to make sure you understand because they are”born and raised” or long time transplants these north shore residents seam to think that the state or county government should make new laws that protect and control what visitors or other residents must respect of their new lifestyles as being different than any other place we have the chance to see for ourselves. These people I would almost bet are the same people who because of traffic grid lock when they travel towards our side of the island they use the alternate means of getting around the traffic by using our back roads in the homesteads.You know the ones that speed through our streets in order to make up for loss time sitting in traffic. where is the respect that you’s want ? We deserve it too!

    1. Baduck March 9, 2019 7:32 pm Reply

      I wouldn’t blame these grumblers on going through the Homesteads to get by traffic but you’re right about the “born and raised here” plantation mentality and entitlement. One thing for sure the so called “rich” haoles are not the people calling for a “adjustment period” and stalling the opening by any means. It’s mostly transplants and extremists posing as speaking for the whole community.

  10. Robert Davis March 9, 2019 6:02 pm Reply

    Federal and local tax dollars pay for road repairs and maintenance. If you want to limit access, move and pay for a private road.

  11. A person March 9, 2019 6:07 pm Reply

    I hope to clarify something for Kauai residents. No one wants to make Hāena and Wainiha a gated community. When referring to making it only accessible by private vehicle to residents, that includes ALL island residents. We hope to be a model for other places across the island we love. We do not have the infrastructure to support the 3500 tourist cars that come out here. This place (like many others) has priceless historical, cultural, and ecological sites. Because the road is closed right now, there is chance to make good decisions in order to protect this place and the people of the place. It gives us a chance to be a model for other places on this island. I was raised out here. My mom and dad live out here. I’m raising my child out here. And I’d like people who can no longer live in the community they were born and raised in to be able to enjoy their places too and not have to fight for space because of over tourism. And we can give them that by asking visitors to take a shuttle and letting all KAUAI residents come in their own vehicles if they choose. This will keep special places cleaner and nicer when visitors do choose to visit. This is been really challenging to live out here during the convoy. My entire life has had to change because of it. It’s hard to go to the doctor. I can barely get my mail. My son can no longer participate in after school activities. But it’s worth it if I know it’s protecting this place and giving it a chance to heal and have better policies made in protection of it. I hope we’re successful in protecting it. Because then we can move across the island to take care of all of the many special historical, cultural, and ecological sites and the special people and families who live across KAUAI. People of Kauai, please know you are included in all of the work we are doing here. Please help and support us. And I promise we will do the same for you. We are one island 🙂

    1. AnotherPerson March 11, 2019 4:59 pm Reply

      Aloha A Person. You sound like you have a big heart. Please tell us of the actual “work’ you are doing when you say “All the work we are doing?”. When you think about how hard your life has been during the road closure please try to think of say, the people of Puna who lost everything including their land perhaps then you’ll gain perspective of how lucky you still are and how small an inconvenience the convoy is in the scheme of things. The words “born and raised” have been used too long to denote something special. What makes them different from the other people who were not in the context you use the term? There are historical and cultural sites everywhere and there’s no such thing as an “ecological” site. Why are yours different? So does this mean you plan to go to other Kauai communities and save them? Who is “We? And finally you are correct you are one island there and the rest of the island deserves access to the closed off area as soon as the road is deemed safe. You can continue to work towards protecting your community when the road is safely opened and the car and parking problem is attended to. What do you plan to do in other areas of Kauai that you promise to do by the way? How do you propose we support you and what exactly are you doing that needs support?

  12. Baduck March 9, 2019 7:23 pm Reply

    Nobody is talking about the TVR owners who have either lost their homes or are looking at that as a real possibility or the people employed by them either. Time to open the road when it’s safe not when the people in there “are ready” Give me a break. Some time to adjust? Are you kidding? They’ve had a year already. The people who want to extend the opening are selfish extremists. They are not thinking of the WHOLE community by any means. One of the leaders of this NIMBY group is Caryn Diamond who spends her whole life spying on people in the name of community service. Other’s use Hawaiian Soverignty as a reason that it all belongs to them and they don’t want “outsiders let back in” NIMBY = “Not in my Back Yard = A person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous waste facility (Read TVR, other visitors, anyone but like minded people), especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.” There are a whole lot more people involved in this issue than the outspoken extremists who cause Hu Hu for the rest of us who believe the word community encompasses everyone not just the NIMBY’s.

  13. dderek March 9, 2019 7:24 pm Reply

    get over it the roads gonna open. hdot and nobody else else wanna hear derelicts of whine-niha and haena drumming up excuses to keep it shut down so they can have their subsidized gated community.

  14. dashadow March 9, 2019 7:41 pm Reply


    1. shadowboxer March 11, 2019 11:08 pm Reply

      Da shadow noze……

  15. Steve Martin March 9, 2019 9:46 pm Reply

    the woman who pleased her neighbors with the suggestion that tourists must come in a shuttle and no more tourists cars… I agree but also think the residents are no different than the likes of a tourist. the two together will fool anyone and for that reason if you want to end all the BS and keep the area pristine then get rid of all the houses and buildings, peoples stuff on all those lots and septic systems as well and the displaced residents can again enjoy the area from a shuttle with the tourists.

  16. Becky March 10, 2019 7:34 am Reply

    The road from Haena Beach Park to Ke’e Beach in unsafe for 2 lane traffic as it is not wide enough and has numerous pot holes😢 It would seem unwise & unsafe 2 allow 2 lane traffic for the general public🏝🏝

    1. dashadow March 11, 2019 9:30 pm Reply

      ok sure … you’re suddently concerned with “safety”

  17. Kalaheoguy March 11, 2019 12:51 pm Reply

    Thanks to Monique, Allan, and other contributors to TGI for keeping us up to date on progress toward restoring the road and the messy process of trying to decide what the “new normal” should look like past Hanalei. The old system was so obviously broken that it would be a huge mistake not to make big changes before re-opening the road. I don’t think it is too much to ask that, as preconditions for re-opening the road, the state and county have solutions in place (not just planned) for 1) ending illegal parking along the road, 2) a shuttle system and 3) parking permits for Kauai residents and monitoring of parking reserved for residents. Otherwise we’re going to light the fuse on a powder keg of tension resulting from going from almost zero traffic to the way it was before almost overnight. And what about the Kalalau Trail? We’ve heard next to nothing about that, yet it’s a huge draw for visitors traveling to Ke’e. The trail could use some limitations on the number of day-hikers allowed. This is a perfect opportunity to implement an online reservation system for day hiking. Allow residents to hike the trail for free, without a permit. Charge a reservation fee for visitors and cap the number of permits per day. People will pay a good amount to hike to Hanakapiai if they really want to because of its beauty. And that payment will weed out the large number that just do it because they’re there already and there are no obstacles to doing so. That will give us funds to maintain the trail, support ranger staffing at the trailhead, and limit the bottlenecks on the trail from too many hikers (and the danger that overcrowding brings on the trail.) The trail is being loved to death, and I’ve seen too many people clearly unprepared for the trail conditions. DLNR already has an online reservation system for camping permits, so the infrastructure is there. Thanks to all who are putting in hard work to repair roads, improve Ha’ena, enhance the transportation infrastructure, and to all those who care enough to try to make things better.

    1. Maile April 12, 2019 2:52 am Reply

      Thank u
      Finally someone who
      Understands and doesn’t live out here

  18. Voice of Reason March 11, 2019 3:21 pm Reply

    This article is a PR piece devised by the group of Haena residents in the guise of “news” The Haena-Wainiha residents have had a year to recover. Writing articles like this plus letters to the state and the governor because you now realize that the mayor and planning department are overruled on the road opening decision won’t help because there are more people involved than you all and bigger needs for the public. The road is public and maintained by the state. Everything will be fixed after it is deemed safe so it can be used by the public. The road has always been safe and will be again soon after a year of being closed. The rest of the fixes will be taken care in due time meanwhile the rest of us who want access, which vastly outnumber you all, want the road opened when it is deemed safe not when you all have even more time to “adjust”. The divisiveness you encourage is a far cry from the word community and it’s obvious to everyone else who does not share your views of keeping the road closed longer than it needs to be.

  19. north korean mentality March 11, 2019 8:05 pm Reply

    the nimbys of north shore are right, in fact, the road from waikoko to kee should be completely demolished along with all homes and anything else man made. all ex-residents will be relocated to coco palms and salt pond. the entire area clear out to kalalau will be quarantined for the next 100 yrs. any violator will be banished from the islands, forced to live in las vegas.

    1. mentally nimble March 11, 2019 11:00 pm Reply

      I wen agree wit da mentally north korean guy foah suah.

    2. jack be nimbly March 11, 2019 11:05 pm Reply

      You’re right, mentally speaking that is….. 🤙🏼

  20. NIMBY man March 14, 2019 3:19 pm Reply

    Wow!! North Shore residents sure are self adsorbed. Do they think that the North Shore is the only place in America with bad traffic, lots of out of town tourists and high housing costs? Maybe they need to get over to the mainland to see what real congestion, high rent and homelessness looks like. It’s funny reading millionaires complaining about intruders into their neighborhood. Yes, if you own property in Haena and Wainiha you probably have over a million in assets, so cry me a river. Most of the traffic in that area is between 9 and 5, most people clear out before sunset, so the complainers are the people who have no job and are hanging around all day. Why the hate for the tourists? I have stayed in many houses on the North Shore, the renters are quiet, respectful residents. Once, I stayed at Makua, they guy who lived across the street was the maestro of a concerto of shooting guns, revving motorcycles and barking dogs. Tourist suck…

  21. ann ginsburgh hofkin April 15, 2019 7:39 pm Reply

    This all requires a delicate balance. In truth, we would hope that EVERYONE who loves this area of “our” world would wish for the best possible outcome. Hopefully, this would take into account the interests of the residents, but would not totally exclude others (visitors) from being able to appreciate the incredible beauty of Kauai. My husband and I have been fortunate enough to have visited this island over 50 times since 1969. We have seen great changes, and we respect the rights of those who actually LIVE there. So a delicate balance needs to be arrived at – and perhaps restrictions and rules are in order (and long overdue). I, for one, am willing to put up with inconveniences (such as shuttles and fees) in order to protect and preserve such a treasure. We are lucky to still HAVE this place to visit, adore, and rejuvenate.

  22. Zhou gang June 28, 2019 7:05 pm Reply

    It’s ironic that the “locals” who despise tourists are almost always, white people who moved from the mainland. Very insular and snobby attitude. The people who are native to Hawaii and have been there their entire lives, don’t go out of their way to denounce tourists, because they are down to earth and not into elitist classism. This notion that all tourists are jerks is baloney, there are jerk locals, jerk tourists and always will be. Stop thinking that you’re better than someone just because you live there and they don’t.
    You think people in Chicago look down on tourists like this, no because they have lives! People here are just too preoccupied with this bs status thing of being a local.
    Stop trying to mimic and talk like natives when you aren’t ever going to be one. Respect your elders. Stop being so self centered and snobby. Get over yourself. You’re not as hip as you think you are.
    The storms were a horrible thing. The response has been great given the resources they have and the time they had to spend listening to the complainers. Tourists did not cause the storm. Mother Nature did. Our petty, conniving, arrogant ways as humans and how we treat strangers, including tourists and “locals” can either make us good people, or feebleminded judgemental nincompoops. You are not better than anyone else in this world. Being a local doesn’t permit you to judge those you deem outsiders. Tourists, you do not have to act all subservient to these locals, they are not above you nor beneath you. If you encounter rude locals, it only reflects poorly upon that insecure person, not all locals. Same applies to non locals. All it does is force you to carry a huge weight, the weight of judgement and hate. What terrible things man has done to each other in history because of this judgement of others.

  23. JDETTERIUCH March 13, 2020 12:25 pm Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.