Rockfall project
concerns Waimanalo

Rock removal at Makapuu
requires some road closures

By Rod Antone

The use of explosives was one of the main worries for Waimanalo residents listening last night to details about the Makapuu Point rockfall project.

Though project officials said they would be using "controlled" blasts to clear rocky overhangs, some wondered how one controls Mother Nature.

"What happens if a large portion of the wall goes and falls into the road?" asked Wilson Ho, Waimanalo Neighborhood Board chairman. "Do you have a backup plan if we don't have a road?"

The state Department of Transportation held the informational meeting at Blanche Hope Elementary School cafeteria last night to introduce the community to the project and field questions.

About 50 residents and business owners voiced concerns, including scheduled daytime road closures that project officials said were mandatory because some work could not be done at night.

Project consultant Earl Matsukawa of Wilson Okamoto & Associates said rock-scaling work would close both lanes of the highway daily for two three-hour periods, for three weeks, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and then again from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

"That's when rush hour starts," said Matsukawa. "We're trying to minimize the impact."

"There's a lot of kids from Waimanalo that go to school in Hawaii Kai," said Margaret Pekelo. "What about them?"

The project is a temporary fix that will allow the DOT to come up with a more permanent solution to keep people safe from falling rocks. Officials said that a permanent fix may be about five years away.

In the meantime, residents want to make sure the temporary solution does not cause more problems.

"That road is the lifeblood of the community," said Andrew Jamila Jr., president of the Waimanalo Construction Coalition. "You guys better anticipate and expect problems."

Another concern was what happens when emergency vehicles need to get through during road closures.

"If we can get a heads-up, we have a plan to plow through the debris," said Matsukawa.

Matsukawa also addressed concerns about beachgoers at Makapuu when explosives are used.

"There will be a signal given, and beachgoers will be asked to move toward the Waimanalo side of the beach," said Matsukawa. "We don't expect rocks to go that far, but it's just a precaution."

Overall, however, most attending the meeting did not question the need for the project, only how it was to be carried out.

State Department of Transportation

E-mail to City Desk


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