Repair work on traffic-snarling water main break in Kahala expected to last days

Click here to view KHON2’s Live Traffic Map.

Board of Water Supply and state transportation officials held a news conference Monday morning. View the update here.

Two eastbound lanes of Kalanianaole Highway at the east end of the H-1 Freeway are reopened Sunday night following a day of massive traffic gridlock due to an extensive water main break that closed the entire roadway.

But expect more traffic delays since the Board of Water Supply (BWS) says repairs to the damaged 24-inch main are not expected to be completed until Thursday.

The Board of Water Supply (BWS) says delays in the repair are due to crews having trouble reaching the broken pipe, which was installed in 1969.

“We were delayed because, unfortunately, there was an abandoned transmission pipe that overlay our active pipe and that made it difficult to get to and we had to cut pieces of that out before we were able to get to the actual pipe that broke,” said spokesperson Kathleen Pahinui.

She says BWS officials met Sunday afternoon with state and city transportation departments regarding the next steps moving forward to ease congestion.

Traffic was so bad Saturday as the day wore on that one driver told us it took him two hours to travel a distance that normally takes him only five minutes.

The water main break was one of three on Oahu within 12 hours — the other two occurred on Queen Street in town and Leolua Street in Waipahu — but this one on one of the island’s major roadways has been affecting thousands of commuters and could take until Monday to repair. The BWS, however, is saying that repairs should be done by sometime Sunday.

Jason Ako is a dentist in Kahala and he says he had to close his office for the day. “We lost the water this morning, so we had to shut down completely,” he said. “The patients couldn’t get in and they couldn’t get out. Traffic is a nightmare. I feel really bad for all the people that have to go in any direction.”

When asked why all lanes were closed, Pahinui said on Saturday “I’m assuming they are doing that because of the lengths of the depths of the repair. We don’t want the pressure to overwhelm the system and then break other pipes.” She added that a paving contractor is working on repairing the sinkhole so the lanes can reopen.

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The break, which was reported about 4:45 a.m. Saturday, initially affected customers from Keanu St. in Palolo to Black Point to Ainakoa.

Water service has been restored, except for 11 nearby customers who will have no service throughout the repair. The BWS has set up a water wagon at 4494 Aliikoa St. to provide a water source for them.

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Photos of the view from the 7th Avenue overpass
Photos of the view from the 7th Avenue overpass

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