For the second time in less than a month, crews are back out along Kamehameha Highway, shoring up portions of the road before even more of it crumbles into the ocean.
They lined the coastline with boulders to keep the strong surf from undercutting the highway, which caused the collapse.
But a massive chunk of missing shoulder remained, exposing the extreme coastal erosion.
We noticed workers assessing the hole. They plan to remove the chunks of asphalt and guardrail, fill it, and replace the roadway.
“It’s been getting pretty bad, but this past two years has just been getting worse, all the rocks washing out into the ocean, no more sand over on the beach,” said Kaaawa resident Christian Rioardin. “(The hole is) just across from my house. It started looking a little cliff-y. It went down a little bit. I thought, ‘Oh, what’s going on?’ I didn’t expect the whole road to just fall in like that, though.”
This is day one of the state Department of Transportation’s temporary solution, and work is expected to last for about a week, though officials hope to have the road back open in four days, which is what happened last time. Crews are working as quickly as they can, from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Residents say the season’s high surf has taken its toll on the road.
“My dad was just traveling and a big wave came, went all over his windshield. He was scared, because he thought he was going to go over onto the beach,” Rioardin said.
Until repairs are finished, the northbound, or makai, lane of Kamehameha Highway near Kaaawa Valley Road and Kanenelu Beach in Kaaawa will remain closed 24 hours a day. Traffic will continue to be contraflowed in the southbound, or mauka, lane with flaggers on location to assist with traffic flow.
The state says work taking place this week is just a temporary fix, and will continue to work on a long-term solution to prevent further coastal erosion.
The area that fell into the ocean Saturday night is just 100 feet from another part of the highway that was fixed earlier this month, both portions damaged by big surf.
“It was closed by Crouching lion for three months (in 2015), same thing,” said Punaluu resident Gwenaelle Devaux. “(It’s) frustrating, but we’re used to it out here with the roads being so bad.”
Drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible.