Waimanalo celebrates
highway reopening

An open-air market and concert are
planned after 3 weeks of road closures

Scheduled Makapuu road work

By Diana Leone

Today is the last day Kalanianaole Highway at Makapuu Point is closed all day for work on its cliffs, but intermittent closures the weeks of Dec. 9-13 and 16-20 will slow traffic in both directions as wire mesh is installed.

In hopes of bringing back tourists and kamaaina to Waimanalo after three weeks of road closures, the community is holding an open-air market and concert Saturday and Sunday at the Waimanalo Polo Field.

"We're hoping people come to downtown Waimanalo, visit the shops, do a little shopping, get ready for Christmas, then come by the polo field," said Joe Ryan, Waimanalo Neighborhood Board vice president.

Live music will be on tap and food, arts and crafts, produce and plants will be for sale 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days, Ryan said. Repeat events are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 7-8 and 14-15. The Dec. 14 event will be held at Waimanalo District Park at the end of the Waimanalo Christmas Parade.

Every Waimanalo business will be giving away free raffle tickets to win gifts that have been donated from businesses throughout the island, said Manny Menendez, city Office of Economic Development executive director.

The city is helping with some infrastructure for the event, he said, but "the community has stepped forward in a fantastic way. ... It's very inspiring," Menendez said.

Point Break surf shop owner Toni Blanchard estimates her business was down 80 percent in November.

"I think it'll be better now," she said. "I'm glad the road's open."

Since Nov. 6, about 900 feet of the highway between the Makapuu Lookout and Makapuu Beach Park has been closed daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as workers with Royal Contracting Co. Ltd. removed dangerous rocks from the cliff face. The company has a $1.3 million contract with the state Department of Transportation. The work was moved up from February following an Oct. 15 rock slide that closed the highway for 13 hours.

After preparation work Dec. 2-6, which will not block the road, the contractor will be flying netting into place on the cliff face Dec. 9-13. The helicopters are supposed to be able to get each of the 32 sections of net into place within 20 minutes, Transportation spokesmen said. During that time, traffic below will be stopped.

In the final phase of the work, Dec. 16-20, the mauka lane will be closed with traffic from both directions alternating in the makai lane.

E Noa Tours, which had scaled back six circle-island tours per day over the past three weeks, will be going back to Waimanalo and Makapuu on Thanksgiving, said logistics manager Bill Haole.

The company believes drivers can keep passengers entertained with history and legends during the 20-minute stops expected after Dec. 9, he said.

The economic effect on Waimanalo has been worse than just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some said.

Emergency business loans of up to $50,000 are being offered to Waimanalo businesses that lost more than 15 percent of their normal income in November, said Tom Smyth, business support administrator for the state Department of Business and Economic Development. Information about the loans is available at /dbedt or by calling him at 586-2591.


Road work

Schedule for remainder of Makapuu roadwork:

>> Thanksgiving-Dec. 8: Preparation for netting installation; no lane closures.

>> Dec. 9-13, starting at 8:30 a.m.: Netting installation; intermittent 20-minute stops for traffic going both directions while helicopter lifts netting sections into place.

>> Dec. 16-20, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Attaching sections of net to each other; mauka lane closed while traffic in the makai lane will be stop-and-start, one direction at a time.

E-mail to City Desk


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