Sunday, July 15, 2001

A water main burst in Waianae yesterday, creating a 20-foot-wide
sinkhole. Police closed part of Farrington Highway.

Broken pipes
halt traffic, service

A water main break disrupts
traffic on Farrington Highway
on Waianae Coast

By Leila Fujimori

A WATER MAIN BREAK that closed Farrington Highway near Ala Hema Street has renewed calls to build an alternate route to get Waianae Coast residents to and from their homes.

Streams of pedestrians walked along the highway carrying groceries and children, while vehicles were backed up on the highway as traffic was rerouted onto a narrow dirt back road. Police alternated eastbound and westbound traffic along the one-way road.

"We're in desperate need of another way to get in and out," said Waianae resident Susan Pavao, who suffers back problems and arthritis and had to walk to the store.

"We had standoffs, all kinds of things here," she said. "God forbid if one tsunami comes, we're all dead. This ain't Hawaii Kai. It's like they don't care about us here. Supposed to take care the locals first."

The detour was too narrow for large trucks, buses and vans. City buses shuttled passengers to Waianae High School from Makaha. Bus riders then had to walk through the area closed off to traffic to catch another bus.

Handi-Van operator Stan Souza said he took dialysis patients in wheelchairs across the closed section of highway from the Makaha side. Another Handi-Van was waiting on the other side of the break so patients could get to their appointments.

"People who are ambulatory can get there in their normal car, but people in wheelchairs, you're kind of stuck," he said.

The 20-inch water main ruptured about 9 a.m., creating a 20-foot-wide sinkhole in the middle of Farrington Highway in front of the Waianae Neighborhood Community Center. Police closed a quarter-mile stretch of highway between Ala Hema and Ala Akau streets.

Leo Villalobos, who lives in front of the main break, said water began pouring into his driveway yesterday morning.

Neighbors helped keep the water from entering his home by scooping water until the fire department arrived with a pump.

"They (his neighbors) were the answer to my prayers," said Villalobos, a pastor at the Waianae United Methodist Church.

Denise De Costa, spokeswoman for the Board of Water Supply, said crews were expected to finish repairs on the pipe overnight and patch the road sometime today.

Townbound lanes were reopened at 5 p.m. Makaha-bound motorists continued to use the detour, police said.

The only customers without water were residents of a small townhouse complex at Farrington and Ala Hema Street, De Costa said.

She said the cause of the break has not been determined, but was probably corrosion.

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