Too soon to reopen Kuhio Highway

Dear Senators:

My name is Cyndy Johnson and I am a long-time resident of the far North Shore of Kauai. I am writing to you on my behalf as well as others in the community who are copied on this correspondence.

As you know, our community was very hard hit during last April’s historic floods. The most devastating effect for the community at large was the loss of portions of Kuhio Highway owing to major landslides that literally sent portions of the road down into the ocean.

Recently we were informed by state and local officials at a community meeting that the highway will be re-opened on May 1 even though the repairs are not complete (there are several sections where there is still only one lane) because the federal government has told the state that if it does not open by May 1 they will take back the $80 million in federal funding we received as part of disaster relief for the express purpose of repairing and restoring the highway. Many of us in the community find this hard to believe.

We are concerned that, if true, the state is rushing to open the road even though repairs are not complete just to avoid losing these funds. Can you tell us if this is true?

We need a real answer, and we are coming to you because we trust you. If it is true we respectfully request a 30-60 day extension so that repairs can be completed and our safety can be assured.

If it is not the case that these funds are in jeopardy if the road is not ready to be re-opened by May 1st we would like to know that as well. We are enormously concerned for the safety of our community residents and others who will use the highway when it is re-opened.

We all want the road to re-open, but not until we have two lanes all the way from Wainiha to Waikoko and engineering experts have certified that the road is safe. We would also like to know which government agency will be responsible for certifying the safety issues — will it be a federal or state agency?

Also, three single-lane bridges in Hanalei are still under repair, and we have been told that those repairs will not be completed by May 1.

That means that there will be a need for flagmen at the bridges as well as at several points on the highway to direct alternating traffic in those areas. This is a grave concern for local residents due to the high potential for significant traffic back-ups that will disproportionately affect those needing to get to work, get their children to school in Hanalei, go to medical appointments, etc.

We are asking for your help, and thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.


Cyndy Johnson is a resident of Wainiha.

  1. George Steffenapolis April 28, 2019 5:53 am Reply

    I’ve been observing the news about the re-opening of the Kuhio Hwy and I’ve got to say, this is the biggest load of nonsense written about it so far. Stop trying to create fear over baseless claims.

    If the state is going to lose federal funding why do you think you will be granted a 30-60 day extension? You site the need for safety and even when by your own admission the state will need flag people, not all road workers are men by the way, to keep things safe that isn’t good enough because now that will slow down traffic. Just admit you don’t want anyone else there except for those that currently reside on the north shore. It doesn’t matter if I’m from Lihue, Pearl City or Kona. If I wasn’t born with the privilege of being in the north shore I’m not allowed to be there.

    How about you all accept that change happens, the road will be open, locals even from their islands will visits, haoles will visit, its the fact of life. If or state loses the 80 million in funding we are going to need a lot more tourists to come to make up the cost differemce.

  2. james April 28, 2019 7:21 am Reply

    As a citizen of Kauai, I and others who do not live on the North Shore, have been denied access to part of our Island. We enjoy that area, like to surf and go to the beaches there, and have a right to use the public roads to access that area. It sounds like you want to keep folks out as long as you can and the safety angle is just a ruse. I’ll put up with a flagman if I can surf Tunnels again as I’m sure most others who don’t live there would agree. Quit whining.

    1. CB April 28, 2019 3:06 pm Reply

      Agree with you James. a year for the road to be closed is insane. The island government is just awful. No other state in the US would tolerate this.

  3. Joe Maka April 28, 2019 7:58 am Reply

    Dear Senators,

    Ms Johnson expresses a minority opinion that Haena should remain closed. The rest of Kauai has a right to this public space. Most of us disagree with Ms. Johnson’s position.

    Do not believe her claims that safety is a reason to delay opening. The road is far safer than it has been during my 50+ years on Kauai.

    The vocal Haena minority wants you to believe they personally suffered from the floods. A few people in Wainiha did lose property. Most homes were unaffected. For many Haena people, life got better – former vacation homes were opened to them for free, government and volunteer support poured in, equipment cleaned up, people got new cars and toys. Most of all, the Haena residents had Haena all to themselves for a year now. It’s no secret that EVERYONE in Haena has loved the empty beaches, uncrowded surf and bike rides to the cold pond with no cars on the road.

    Lucky you. Be thankful. Now be ready to share.

    Ms. Johnson,

    Haena was not the only area affected by the flood. Your house was OK. The road is better now. I don’t believe that safety is your concern. You’re also the same Cyndy Johnson that shamed Hawaiian Airlines for wanting to charge a change fee for your daughter’s interrupted vacation to Kauai.


    1. Doug April 28, 2019 12:59 pm Reply

      what he said…………..

    2. roger April 29, 2019 6:05 pm Reply


  4. Joe Public April 29, 2019 8:01 am Reply

    What a crock of …., stop crying, this is a public roadway, NOT private unlike you want to believe.

  5. Sue April 29, 2019 9:27 am Reply

    You guys up there complained when you had it closed and had to deal with the convoys, now you are complaining that it is opening? So I gather that you want it closed, without convoys?

    Gee, we would like the whole island to be like that, but it’s not going to happen. Feel lucky that you live here at all! Please share like the rest of us do!

  6. dick cheney April 29, 2019 6:06 pm Reply

    road opens in 2 days , get over it…

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