Monday, June 27, 2022 |
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KAILUA-KONA You cant go home, but you cant stay here.
KAILUA-KONA — You can’t go home, but you can’t stay here.
That was the message the Hawaii Department of Transportation sent to several homeless individuals residing in the brush on the mauka side of the intersection at Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway when the state officially removed them from the parcel Monday.
The homeless encampment spanned state and county lands, as well as land belonging to Hawaiian Telcom, Inc. and the Queen Liliuokalani Trust. The Trust cleared its own lands of homeless presence prior to Monday’s work, while DOT was tasked with emptying and cleaning the rest.
“It’s a statewide initiative for us to ensure that we keep our highway areas safe,” said DOT Highways Division Deputy Director Ed Sniffen.
“We’ve been seeing a lot more incidents of homeless interactions or conflicts with vehicles, especially in areas you don’t expect them,” he continued, adding he was aware of two fatalities on Oahu last year resulting from encampments situated too close to highways.
The cleanup action was a state-led collaboration with Hawaii County in response to multiple complaints, Sniffen said, and serves as a follow-up effort to DOT’s clearing of the homeless from storm water drains under the highway near Henry Street last April — an area known locally as the Tunnels.
DOT workers and contracted crews on the ground said they were also scheduled to make trash pickup and evacuation visits to culverts where the highway intersects with Hina Lani Street and Makala Boulevard, as well as the Alii Drive area near Huggo’s. DOT is not planning to leave any supervisory personnel behind.
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