Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
A construction crew lays large pipes along Kahekili
Highway just past Haiku Road.

Highway will get
beauty treatment

The Windward highway
is due for landscaping and
other improvements

By Janine Tully

Considered an eyesore by Windward residents, Kahekili Highway will be getting a make-over as part of a state landscaping project scheduled to begin next year.

Since its widening in 1997, residents have complained about the highway's barren look from Likelike Highway to Haiku Road.

Preliminary design plans call for installing big planter boxes in three places along the median and resurfacing the concrete noise walls.

Estimated cost for the greenery and other improvements: $2.5 million, 80 percent of which will be paid from federal highway funds and 20 percent by the state.

The project has already been approved by the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization, which has the last say on highway improvement projects, according to Councilmember Steve Holmes, a member of the organization.

Under the current design, two planter boxes will be 500 feet long and a smaller one 125 feet long. All will be 11 feet wide. They will contain native plants as well as palms, shrubs and ground covering that don't require much watering. A large box will be placed before Keaahala Road, a smaller one before Kahuhipa Road and a large one before Haiku Road.

A fake rock facade will cover the existing noise walls, which range from 8 to 14 feet, on the mauka side of the road.

Star-Bulletin file
The hillside of Kahekili near Keaahala Road has
trees planted by students from Olomana School.

Kennedy presented the landscaping project to the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board recently. The Kahaluu board, along with the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board, has been pushing the state to beautify the highway.

While most people at the meeting were pleased with the design, a few questioned why the department wasn't planting vines to cover the walls.

Some board members mentioned Salt Lake Boulevard as an example where vines on walls have greatly improved the appearance of a roadside.

The problem is not the noise walls but the lack of greenery covering them, said Kaneohe board member Philip Mowrey, who also objected to covering the existing walls with fake rock.

"They should try to make these walls fully green," Mowrey said.

Pressured by the community and Windward legislators, the Transportation Department planted vines along the mauka sidewalks three years ago. But they didn't do well. Windward rains and occasional watering from DOT couldn't keep them alive. The vines shriveled in the ground.

"They needed regular watering," said project manager Henry Kennedy. This time the department is considering plants that withstand dry spells and don't need much water, he said.

When Kahekili was widened there were no plans for landscaping, said Kennedy. The corridor was too narrow and the state didn't want to condemn property.

"Our primary concern was saving the existing right-of-way. That's why the walls are there," Kennedy said. "Cutting into the slope was an option but we didn't want to do that."

However, Kennedy reminded board members that the project was still in its conceptual stages and suggested that an ad hoc committee be form to work with the department on the design.

"We want to give the community as much opportunity as possible to have a say," he said.

The project is scheduled to begin next spring and be completed by 2002.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin