Reopening delayed?

Tyson Gomez / Special to The Garden Island

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, second from left, stands with members of the state Department of Transportation, stuck on the Hanalei side of Manoa Stream after heavy rains on Monday.

LIHUE — Rumors are on the rise that Kuhio Highway won’t be opening on Wednesday.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation didn’t confirm with The Garden Island before press time or answer any questions about the project, but several anonymous sources close to the situation said Monday the highway reopening will be delayed.

On social media, Trisha Keahaulani Watson-Sproat, community liaison between Wainiha and HDOT, confirmed the news.

“I know everyone has been eagerly awaiting for an announcement about the road opening, that date being as soon as May 1,” she wrote Monday afternoon on Facebook. “As I said, the state was carefully considering all the concerns, being expressed by the community, and as many of you know, state officials toured the road today.

“The road opening has been pushed to a later date. We are still putting together an announcement about the details. The official announcement will be sent out by HDOT shortly.”

Wainiha resident Elsa Flores Almaraz was thrilled when she heard the rumor on Monday.

“I believe that my community and myself are extremely happy that the county and the state listened to our concerns and have our best interests, our safety and the safety of our visitors as a priority,” she said.

Kuhio Highway from Waipa north has been closed to traffic, except to residents who are traveling via convoy through the construction, since April 2018’s floods triggered landslides and damaged the road. HDOT has delayed the opening of Kuhio Highway a few times but announced a target of May 1 earlier this year.

The deadline was issued at the same time as an HDOT announcement that state parks and Limahuli Garden would remain closed until June, causing concern from residents. They pointed out that without facilities and parking lots, people would be traveling to a dead end on the North Shore.

Concerns about parking abound as well, specifically the question of how to keep people from parking on side streets and private property while keeping access for residents.

Meanwhile, HDOT has remained silent on the point. The cost to repair the road was $77 million and much of that funding came from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program.

Almaraz pointed out the current and forecasted weather will test the work that’s been done to repair Kuhio Highway.

“Have you seen the photo of the mayor and officials out there from today?” Almaraz said Monday, referring to a photo taken by a Wainiha resident that showed Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, Larry Dill with HDOT and other officials “stuck” on the Hanalei side of Manoa Stream.

In the photo, the stream is flooded and vehicles can’t pass through. “This weather will test what they’ve done and it needs to be tested,” Almarez said.

Others confirmed they suspect more flooding may have something to do with the delay on opening Kuhio Highway.


Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or

  1. Arbitrary April 30, 2019 2:53 am Reply

    Close west side beaches and roads to anyone from North Shore I say.

    1. roger April 30, 2019 4:45 pm Reply


  2. George Steffenapolis April 30, 2019 2:53 am Reply

    HDOT, brilliant work here. Nothing like putting your complete ineptitude on display for all to see. Bravo. Only in Hawaii would it take over a year to repair a roadway. Meanwhile, the elite North Shore’rs will continue to tout how they are the only ones who should have access to that part of OUR island. The complete mismanagement of this whole ordeal is simply unbelievable. If our government could put someone on the moon in 1959 surely in 2019 we can fix a road in under 1.5 years,

  3. BP April 30, 2019 4:50 am Reply

    To the Kauai residents that do not live Wainiha/Haena, the views of some people in no way represent the whole of the community about isolating Wainiha/Haena. A lot of people out here want the road to open. The tourist traffic sucks, the vacation renters suck ( mostly) but what sucks even more is government control over when we can come and go, our friends not being able to make visits from south and west, and most of all having a front row to watching our tax dollars being flushed down the toilet by mismanagement of the entire road project.
    Example 1 Why didn’t they run the Kee and Manoa rehab in tandem with the other repair efforts so its not holding up the show at the end? Same with the bridge work.
    Example 2 why do they need locked gates at night and security? Are we criminals?
    Example 3 There was no engineered plans for construction crews. The repaired the road in a build then design format. Not design build. Which is a nice way of saying winging it.
    Example 4 If they are going to open the road to 2000 cars a day why did they not repave the road through Wainiha and to Kee? The pot holes and buckles are older than most the kids in the neighborhood.
    I believe the reason they are waffling on the road opening is the same reason they did such a sub standard road repair project, weak leadership. People just collecting a paycheck at our expense and not delivering.
    My humble opinion, but I have to say that we don’t want to be lumped in with the people who want to extend the closure and found a crack in the dam so to speak , and are using this to push their agenda.

    Life. Goes. On. Lets turn the page.

  4. Uncleaina April 30, 2019 6:26 am Reply

    Wow. Sheer incompetence from our leaders. Can’t even deliver on a date they’ve pushed back for months. And the idea that they’re supporting people who want to keep the tax paying residents of Kauai out of “their” community makes me want to shut down the Kuhio Highway in “my” neighborhood and prevent them from leaving Haena. Would they be cool with that? Our mayor- did he issue a statement? Is he explaining why this deadline has failed to be met? Just more mumbling and staring at their feet instead of upholding a promise they made.

  5. Joe Maka April 30, 2019 6:46 am Reply

    This has become absurd. Laughable. Shame.

    Government officials: stop listening to the complaining minority. Show courage and represent interests of the greater public.

    We all know the truth, the Haena tribe wants Haena to themselves. They are terrified of the impending reality.

    This has nothing to do with safety. Nobody has driven off the cliff in the 1 year that the road was closed, even though the road was in much worse shape. Manoa stream ALWAYS floods like it did on Monday. We were under a flash flood warning yesterday! That situation has not changed, and it’s not going to. The road there is also far better than before.

    Haena people. Get ready. You cannot avoid the inevitable. Hawaii residents and visitors are coming, and we don’t appreciate your unwillingness to share.

  6. Da Shadow April 30, 2019 7:03 am Reply

    Delayed AGAIN?? -Because an entire YEAR+ wasn’t enough?
    Is the County/HDOT totally inept??
    Anyone could see the damage to Manoa and Limahuli crossings, it should have been repaired long, long ago.
    >>Why were repairs to the stream crossings delayed so long?

    These ongoing delays have resulted in significant losses for job-supporting vacation-rental related businesses, not to mention the massive loss of tax dollars they collect.

  7. Why tho April 30, 2019 7:22 am Reply

    Hopefully the County will come to its senses and find a solution that allows the road to be re-opened up to Manoa stream.
    We are TIRED of this convoy.

  8. yeah April 30, 2019 7:29 am Reply

    “Elsa Flores Almaraz was thrilled when she heard the rumor on Monday.”

    Elsa must be one of the lucky people whose livelihood doesn’t depend on the road being opened.

  9. Lumahai Mike April 30, 2019 7:46 am Reply

    This is just typical rainy day. This stream has been running across the road here forever. It is like a tourist attraction. Now would have been the time to put in a culvert if anybody really cared. Open The Road Mayor!

  10. cold truth April 30, 2019 7:55 am Reply

    the stream crossing always looks like that when it rains , the contentious few are just grabbing at anything that can be used as ammo to hold off the opening. how unfortunate that a few burnout selfish ns residents are the squeaky wheels that ruin it for everyone else, as well as bully the majority of folks up there that are suffering from these delays. the road will open and the bully’s that’s think they’re above the rest will be the ones getting the $200 tickets and locked out of the places they’ve been so desperately trying to keep for themselves.

  11. Elekipua April 30, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    Mahalo Jessica Else !!
    💜🙏🏽💜 Let’s hope this is all resolved soon, my community is at its wits end! Mean spirited grumblers claim that we are being greedy and want our road all to ourselves but it’s not true. We all want to be released from being “Convoy Convicts” as we affectionally call ourselves. It’s no fun being in what feels like a perpetual state of Marshal Law. There has been a great loss of income because of this. We just want everyone to be safe and have the proper infrastructure in place before opening the floodgates (pardon the pun 😉), yes, and try to keep a sense of humor about it. Otherwise with no open state parks, bathrooms, parking lots, Kalalau trail and botanical garden available everyone will bottleneck at coldpond and have to turn around, probably finding side roads and beaches that do not have bathrooms or lifeguards. It’s a recipe for potential disaster and future lawsuits. The unfinished work on the 3 bridges will bottleneck even more cars on the Waikoko side too with added tourist cars (3-4000 a day before the road closed). This will congest our roads and create more problems for a community already ravaged by problems the entire year. To all the grumblers, have compassion, malama one another, malama ‘āina. We are so close to being safely ready to open, please be patient as we have been forced to be. Wear your Aloha and please do not create more stress for an already traumatized community. We need our island ohana to be supportive as the majority of you have been. Deep Mahalos for all who have stepped up with continued Aloha and kokua. Mahalo to my community for your resilience, this has made us stronger. #KauaiStrong #DeepCountry #AlohaAina #KapuAloha
    Ps the new Moana stream repairs seen here are 3 feet underwater. This is worse than how it was before. Imagine the tourists trapped on either side during any heavy rain which is common out here. This design and engineering flaw must be addressed.

    1. reed April 30, 2019 2:23 pm Reply

      LOL OK SURE 😉

  12. Suzan Kelsey Brooks April 30, 2019 1:17 pm Reply

    Is this a good time to suggest that living in a state park and relying on federal funds to keep it open may have some downsides? How long would it have taken for residents of this area to rebuild roads themselves, and at what personal expense?

    1. George S. May 1, 2019 2:54 am Reply

      This exactly!

  13. LTEreader April 30, 2019 6:00 pm Reply

    Do you people really think the residents up there have that much pull? Seriously?
    Go to Youtube and watch the Dickie Chang video > wala‘au drive to Ke‘e. He was up there last week so you’ll all get a better idea of the progress, or lack thereof. You’ll also see this has nothing to do with the residents “unwillingness to share”, nor “terrified of the impending reality” or “burnout selfish ns residents” etc. There’s still work to be done, and I know it’s been unpleasant for them arranging work, school, shopping, etc. around convoy times. You’re blaming them for the delay (nastily I might add) when you should be showing these residents some compassion for the inconvenient year they’ve just had, and the losses many have experienced.

    1. George S May 1, 2019 2:58 am Reply

      LTEReader….okay brah, sure.

  14. George Steffenapolis May 1, 2019 2:53 am Reply

    The satire game is strong with you Elekipua, well done. Just enough in there that it makes one pause to wonder if you are actually serious. You lost a little credibility when you claimed the road is 3 feet under water in the pic. If one looks carefully, you can make out the outer edge of the road from one side to the other.

    Also, are you suggesting that any stretch of sand that boarders water that does not have a life guard stationed should be shut down for safety reasons? Nearly all of the beaches my family frequents lack life guards.

    Your pantomimed call for safety is really getting old.

  15. Wala'au May 1, 2019 3:06 am Reply

    Just watched the suggested video. I’m confused about why the road needs the suggested 3,4, 5 more months of closure? They keenly selected two sections that had current work being done as the example of it not being ready. The rest of the footage shot, very minimal I might add, looks like it did pre-flood. So again, how does this video show us that the road can’t be opened? It is so filled with hyperbole; “those waterfalls aren’t beautiful they are like, oh my scary…..Yes council woman, that is like tons tons tons of water….” Um… what a very factual news piece.

    Yes the flood was terrible. Yes the NS residents have had a tough go of it. But to suggest they still need their space to recover is just plain subjective at best. Open the road. Open the Haen’a parking lot. get the reservation system online and let us use the PUBLIC land up there

  16. Kulikou waha May 1, 2019 7:55 am Reply

    Have any of the lippers been to the N.shore lately? Anybody that’s thinks they should allow 2,000-3,000 more cars down here is a dummy. No parking,no bathrooms, parks are all closed. What if there was a tsunami evacuation?? Major problems!! plus it’s flying rock season too. Hehe. So all you lippers just be patient and keep drinking that haterade

    1. how bout dat May 1, 2019 4:17 pm Reply

      congratulations you just proved their points…..

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