State finishes short-term work on Kauai highway
The two-lane road to the North Shore is fully open for the first time since a flood
By Tom Finnegan
KILAUEA, Kauai » Both lanes of Kuhio Highway reopened at 6:30 p.m. yesterday after two weeks of contra-flow traffic following severe damage caused by the Ka Loko Dam breach.
State workers and a private contractor had been scheduled to do the work last night but raced out when a break in the rainy weather opened yesterday afternoon, said state transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
Traffic backed up from the resulting intermittent road closures for more than five miles in both directions at times yesterday.
Garden Isle residents and visitors will finally have full access to the North Shore for the first time since March 14.
State workers originally said the road between mile markers 21 and 22, just south of Kilauea, would be one lane until perhaps the end of the year.
Still, the width of the current roadway, narrowed because New Jersey barriers have been placed along the outside of the lanes to protect vehicles from going off the steep embankments, will cause problems with larger trucks.
Anyone driving a wider-than-normal truck or with a heavy load is asked to call the Kauai office of highways at 241-3000 for a police escort through the area.
"Today looked like our only window of opportunity to do this week," Ishikawa said. "We just went with it."
Workers repaved about a 100-foot section of the roadway and took off the metal plates that were in place to protect what was left of the highway after the flood, Ishikawa said.
Long-term work on the section of roadway, including the rebuilding of the 25- to 30-foot shoulders next to the road, is currently in the design phase, he said.
"We are asking folks to take it easy through that area," since the roadway is still narrow, he said. Traffic control lights, flashing yellow, are in place to remind motorists to proceed with caution.