Update on the Kūhiō Highway Emergency Repairs

KUHIO HIGHWAY EMERGENCY REPAIRS STATUS UPDATE

Earlier this week, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) announced the substantial completion of the emergency repairs to the section of Kuhio Highway (Route 560) between Waikoko and Wainiha damaged in the historic April 2018 flood. Since the large-scale emergency repair project began, HDOT and its contractors completed twenty-two major tasks including the stabilization of the slope at Wainiha Bay and the rebuilding of sections where the embankment below the road was washed away in the disaster. A full list of those tasks and status as of April 30 are available at https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/2018-kuhio-highway-emergency-repairs/
 
Based on identified safety concerns over opening the roadway near Waikoko Bridge, Kuhio Highway will not be reopened until the work at the bridge progresses sufficiently to ensure the safety of the traveling public and our workers. 

Convoy access to Kuhio Highway past Waikoko will continue Monday – Saturday on the schedule published on March 27, 2019 (available here) until further notice. HDOT is considering adjustments to the schedule to accommodate the community and to reduce potential conflicts between drivers and the workers at Waikoko Bridge. The Project hopes to have an update on those potential adjustments this coming week.

HDOT will be suspending the convoy operations on Sunday, May 5 (beginning at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 11:00 p.m.) and Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day, beginning at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 11:00 p.m.). Access to the area will remain restricted to vehicles with valid decals or passes. The security checkpoint at Waikoko will check all vehicles for the proper credentials. Unauthorized vehicles will be turned around. 
 
The upcoming schedules for work on the bridges are:

Bridge Night Work

  • Night work at the Waikoko Bridge will occur Tuesday, May 7 through Thursday, May 9. There will be no night work on Friday, May 10 (Kauai Community College graduation), Saturday May 11 and Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day).
  • Night work at Waipa and Waikoko Bridges will resume Monday May 13 through Thursday May 16.
  • Work to take place nightly after the 7 p.m. Wainiha to Waikoko convoy until 5:50 a.m.
  • Parking areas on either side of  bridges and pedestrian access will be available for those wanting to cross the bridge during night work hours
  • Parking areas will be secured at all times
  • The convoys will run on the regular schedule between Wainiha and Waikoko
  • The bridge will close to all vehicular traffic after 7 p.m., so any vehicles utilizing the convoy after 7 p.m. will not be able to travel over the Waipa Bridge
  • HDOT is coordinating with Hanalei Colony Resort to provide a shuttle for residents between the Park and Ride locations and Wainiha. 

To provide mobility during the night time closures, the State will continue shuttle service between the Park and Ride and Wainiha with the Hanalei Colony Resort. The Hanalei Colony Resort shuttle is for area residents only.

All work is weather permitting. First responders have been notified and have planned staging and procedures in the event of an emergency requiring them to access the work zones. Arrangements have also been made to ensure the Akita school bus will be able to cross Waipa Bridge at the scheduled time. Visit the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Project Website

Convoy Schedule

Access on Route 560 (Kūhiō Highway) beyond Anae Road is restricted to:

  • Residents (no visitors); provided that visitors who have verified reservations with a vacation rental holding a valid non-conforming use certificate may access the area
  • Emergency Response (9-1-1)
  • Official County/State/Federal Government Officials and Contractors
  • Approved Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO)
Resident decals or work passes are required for access and must be displayed at all times. You may not access the convoy without a decal or work pass. Please visit the county website for information on obtaining a decal or pass.

A request for a 6:00 a.m. addition to the Sunday / Holiday convoy schedule was received by the Department to allow residents with early morning shifts to get to work on time. That request was approved by the Department. A link of the revised convoy schedule, which began November 22, is available here.

Note: this does not include the schedule for the shuttle operated by the Hanalei Colony Resort.

A request for a mid-morning 10:30 a.m. convoy was received by the Department. Unfortunately, with the accelerated project schedule, we are unable to accommodate this request at this time. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. 

REOPENING OF HĀʻENA AND NĀPALI COAST STATE PARKS SET FOR JUNE

New Reservation System for Park entry 
(Līhuʻe) – Barring bad weather or unforeseen delays in repairs or new management implementation, Hā’ena State Park and the Kalalau Trail in the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park will reopen to visitors in early-to-mid June. The official reopening date will be announced in May. 
 
The parks have been closed since last April’s devastating flooding which wiped out park infrastructure and caused multiple landslides along the Kalalau Trail. Repairs and new improvements are continuing and are anticipated to be completed in early June.  
 
In accordance with a park master plan and an Environmental Impact Statement adopted in 2018, improvements installed to replace damaged ones will support a new management paradigm which includes reduced parking and visitor limits. This is an effort to decrease the impacts to park resources, mitigate the crushing effects of over-tourism on the adjacent rural community, and enhance visitor experiences.  
 
The new advance reservation system will be available prior to the park reopening and will coincide with a new county-supported shuttle system. It will allow visitors, with reservations, to access the park without contributing to the traffic and parking woes that have plagued the region for years. Limited parking reservations will also be available, with a new fee system in place. Hawai‘i residents are not subject to the new fees.
 
Alan Carpenter, Assistant Administrator for the DLNR Division of State Parks explained, “For permitted overnight campers along the Kalalau Trail, the reservation system will function as it always has, and those with permits to camp will NOT be subject to the visitor limits. However, under the new management scheme, overnight visitors to the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park will not be able to leave their vehicles at Hā’ena State Park. They will need to take the shuttle or arrange for other transportation to the trailhead. The Kalalau camping reservation system will be re-activated once the opening date is finalized.”
 
State Parks maintenance crews have been working over the past few months to stabilize and clear any locations on the Kalalau Trail damaged or impacted by landslides. Since February a volunteer group, the Friends of the Kalalau Trail have conducted twice monthly work days to clear and repair the trail from its beginning at Kē’ē Beach to Hanakāpīʻai Stream, which is the first two miles of the trail and the only section that is open without having to get an overnight permit.
 
Once the parks reopen visitors can expect construction delays on Kūhiō Highway as bridges will still be under repair. The highway is the only way into the area. There will also be new no- parking zones established and enforced outside of the park. Visitors should purchase both their park reservations and a seat on the new shuttle to assure the most efficient and stress-free visit. 
 
State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “We appreciate and encourage patience as we establish this new system of park access, transportation, and management to mitigate the impacts of traffic on Kauai’s north shore and to make the park experience more enjoyable for residents and visitors alike.” 
 By community request, we have added the link to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks page for the Hā‘ena State Park. You can visit this site for updates on repairs and upgrades to the park.

All questions related to the State Parks, the new reservation system, the reopening of the Parks, or other inquires related to the Parks should be directed to the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources at (808) 587-0396 or (808) 587-0300. Email inquires can be directed to dlnr@hawaii.gov or dlnr.comms@hawaii.gov. Mahalo!Kūhiō Highway Emergency Repairs -Frequently Asked Questions

1. When is the road going to reopen?

HDOT substantially completed the slope stabilization and roadway repairs for Kūhiō Highway between Waikoko and Wainiha on April 30, 2019. Based on identified safety concerns over opening the roadway near Waikoko Bridge, Kuhio Highway will not be reopened until the work at the bridge progresses sufficiently to ensure the safety of the traveling public and our workers.  A date for ceasing of the convoy operation has not yet been set.  

2. Why are the road repairs taking so long?

The April 2018 flood caused significant damage to approximately 32 areas on Kūhiō Highway and set the nationwide 24-hour rainfall total [1]. HDOT committed to repairing the areas where the highway was washed away as well as doing slope stabilization to improve the dependability of the route in the future.

3. Why can’t residents have free access to the road when construction stops for the night?

The bridges remain active work zones. For the safety of residents and workers, HDOT is maintaining the convoys and checkpoints until options to increase access are identified.

4. How can residents obtain passes?

Resident placards, work passes, and shuttle passes are verified and distributed by the County of Kaua‘i Planning Department. More information on the needed identification for passes can be found at https://www.kauai.gov/Government/Departments-Agencies/Emergency-Management-Agency-formerly-Civil-Defense/April-2018-Flooding

5. Are non-residents allowed to walk or bike past the checkpoint?

No. Only authorized individuals and vehicles are permitted to enter past the road closure for safety reasons.

6. Are tourists able to access North Kaua‘i landmarks such as the Hā‘ena State Park, the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kē‘ē Beach, and Tunnels (Mākua)?

Hā‘ena State Park and the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park were damaged in the April flood and remain closed. Please refer to the Department of Land and Natural Resources http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/kauai/napali-coast-state-wilderness-park/ for more information. Access to Kē‘ē Beach and Tunnels (Mākua) is not permitted for unauthorized individuals as they are past the road closure.

7. Will there still be road work ongoing when the road reopens?

All of the road work needed to ensure safe travel on Kuhio Highway between Waikoko and Wainiha such as paving, installation of guardrails, and repairs of the Manoa and Limahuli crossings has been completed. Bridge work, which is outside of the convoy area, will continue with advance notice of construction-related closures provided by HDOT.       

8. Who can I contact to report construction-related issues?

Please call our 24-hour project hotline at (808) 230-0796 or toll-free at 1 (800) 722-9012. Project related emails may be sent to kuhiohighwayemergencyrepairs@gmail.com or dotpao@hawaii.gov[1] The April 2018 flood, which brought nearly 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour period to Kaua‘i (based on Waipā rain gage data from April 14-15 of 49.69 inches), potentially sets the national rainfall record previously set by a 43-inch rainfall total in Alvin, Texas.

See http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/record_precip/record_precip_us.htmlThe Department of Transportation’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page can be found here
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