WAILUA — Closed no more, the reopening of Loop Road was a welcome sight Tuesday afternoon after three years since its initial closure and damage.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources made the announcement Monday, and continued to urge caution on the Wailua road.
“Though the road is now open, repair efforts continue, and only vehicles with 4-wheel-drive capabilities and high clearance should access the road at this time,” the department said in the announcement.
The road, damaged during the April 2018 floods by landslides and fallen trees, has faced construction postponements due to rainfall and vandalism. Repairs were managed by the department’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife with contractor Wa‘alani Enterprises.
The DLNR did not disclose how much the encompassing project cost, or answer other follow-up inquiries Tuesday.
While the boulders that cut off access have been removed, the North Fork Wailua River low-water crossing may be unpassable in dry conditions, DLNR warned. Construction of a new, low-water crossing is still in the works, as the department is in the process of obtaining permits, plans and designs for the areas.
Loop Road provides access into the Lihu‘e-Koloa Forest Reserve, Keahua Arboretum and out to Jurassic Gate trail and Blue Hole.
Over the years, the DLNR noted the project has taken longer than expected.
In August 2019, DOFAW dug a trench across the road to stop vehicular traffic, but that was filled in by community members. The pushback from the community led to the installation of an access gate. And during the March 2020 floods, Keahua Bridge faced damage, which also hampered road repairs. The DLNR said it will close the road when necessary during heavy rainfall.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.