CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Signs warning pedestrians that the sidewalk is closed due to rockslides were posted yesterday along Kailua Road between Hamakua Drive and Ulumanu Street. The state Department of Transportation has advised pedestrians to use the path on the Kawainui Marsh side of Kailua Road until further notice.
Rocky road still congests Kailua
The state considers routing traffic onto a landscaped median near a closed lane
The state Department of Transportation has proposed converting a grassy median along Kailua Road into a temporary lane to ease traffic congestion as it figures out how to correct a rockslide problem.
State transportation officials recently met with the Outdoor Circle to discuss the plan because of a landscaping project members had done on the median.
The lane closest to the hillside between St. John Lutheran Church and Hamakua Drive has remained closed for about a month following landslides that occurred March 31 during heavy rain.
The state had attempted to contra-flow two lanes for Kailua-bound motorists, but the transition did not work well, said Scott Ishikawa, Department of Transportation spokesman.
On April 3 the state decided to close the lane due to the threat of more landslides and overhanging rocks. State transportation officials also installed 60 concrete barriers and posted sidewalk closure signs after some debris fell last week.
Some students from Kailua High School waiting at the bus stop yesterday said traffic has worsened since the state partially closed one lane. "But they gotta do what they gotta do because of safety," said David Yung, a senior.
Several years ago, members of the Outdoor Circle planted native plants such as loulu and naupaka on the median and installed an irrigation system.
Paula Ress, president of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, said the organization had planned to do a second planting project on another section of the median, estimated at $150,000. They want to plant more vegetation, install asphalt curbing and add to the irrigation system.
The state recently proposed to replace the landscaping at the state's cost when the rockslide mitigation project is completed.
"We do understand the problem. The traffic is so backed up because there is only one lane coming in from town," Ress said.
Kailua Road has ranked No. 8 on the top 10 rockfall hazards on Oahu. The hazard has only worsened since the heavy March rain, Ishikawa said.
State transportation officials recently told members of the Kailua Neighborhood Board that the rockfall mitigation project could take up to two years to complete once a design is selected, said Faith Evans, chairwoman of the board's Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
Part of the problem is that the state is dealing with a mixture of rock and clay. "That's one of the challenges we're faced with right now," Ishikawa said. "Our designers are putting their heads together."
Deputy Transportation Director Brennon Morioka was to attend a 7 p.m. Kailua Neighborhood Board meeting at the Kailua Recreation Center today to update the community.
"I have confidence in what they're doing," Evans said. "I think most people recognize the danger of the hillside."