Crews returned to Pali Hwy. Thursday morning to remove a large Albizia tree on the hillside. The tree was hanging precariously by its roots just before the hairpin turn, steps away from the busy highway.
Gusty winds ripped the tree from the ground Monday. Several other trees also came crashing down. Crews had to block all town-bound lanes of the Pali for nearly the entire day to clean up the mess.
Drivers are concerned other albizias could cause harm if something isn’t done. Dozens of invasive Albizias line Pali Hwy. These fast-growing trees can reach heights of 20 feet in the first year and more than 60 feet in 10 years.
“It’s beautiful, but (you) don’t really realize the dangers on the roadways until you actually come over here and hear of landslides and trees falling down,” said driver Manny Redondo.
It wouldn’t be the first time the state made a such a move. In July 2007, the state cut down dozens of Albizias along the H-2 Freeway after a branch fell off and damaged an emergency call box. The state said the trees posed a hazard to drivers and acknowledged it would be liable if anyone was injured by falling branches.
“I don’t think you’re going to take away from the beauty of the environment,” Redondo said. “People aren’t going to even notice a few trees if they’re gone.”
This is the latest in a string of weather-related events on Pali Hwy. In the last two months, both town- and Kailua-bound lanes outside the tunnels have been closed by mudslides or downed trees.