Crews worked to reshape the hillside at Castle Junction yesterday. A spokesman for the contractor says the job is almost 70 percent complete.

Castle Junction
work praised

The project, which is nearly
70 percent complete, is lauded
for not disrupting traffic

Reshaping the landslide-prone hill at the Castle Junction intersection is almost 70 percent complete, says a spokesman for the contractor.

A Kailua Neighborhood Board member praised contractor Goodfellow Brothers for the safety project's minimal disruption of traffic at the busy intersection of Kalanianaole, Kamehameha and Pali highways.

When the $7.8 million job began in February, "the big worry was ... these (dump) trucks pulling in and out of traffic," said Jim Corcoran, a member of the Kailua Neighborhood Board and Maunawili Community Association.

Instead of stopping traffic for trucks loaded with dirt to cross Kalanianaole Highway, Goodfellow Brothers has been trucking the dirt in a slightly roundabout way to a fill site about a mile away, on Kaneohe Ranch land in Maunawili.

All right-hand turns onto Kamehameha Highway, H-3, Mokapu Saddle Road and Kapaa Quarry Road have made for little interference with traffic, said Arthur Lambert, Goodfellow Brothers' Oahu regional manager.

"Goodfellow Brothers really deserves credit. Any traffic tie-ups in the area have not been related to this project at all," Corcoran said.

However, heavy rains in the winter and spring did put the project behind schedule. It originally was to be completed this month, but now it might take until late September or early October, said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.

The department project calls for 250,000 cubic yards of dirt to be removed from the hillside, which will change its formerly 80-degree slope to a gentler, less erosion-prone 26-degree slope. About 170,000 cubic yards have been removed so far, Lambert said.

The "terraced" look of the upper hillside at the intersection is how the entire hillside eventually will be shaped, Lambert said.

Light green paper mulch with grass seeds has been applied to the completed terraces to temporarily help with erosion control. The final look of the entire project will be "thick grass on the entire slope," with sprinklers to water it, Lambert said.

The majority of the dirt taken from the hillside is being used to fill a Kaneohe Ranch valley on the Maunawili side of the highway, Lambert said.

"The project has been cleared environmentally, and they're working hard not to pollute the stream that runs by there and into the marsh," Corcoran said.

A 2003 rockfall hazard study commissioned by the Transportation Department put the Castle Junction intersection among the top 10 locations on Oahu most likely to have a landslide onto a state highway.

Cracks in the ridge discovered in June 2003 after a series of landslides moved the project to the top of the DOT's landslide mitigation list.

A contraflow lane for Honolulu-bound commuters on Kalanianaole Highway will continue weekday mornings -- except holidays -- from 5:30 to 6:45 a.m. until the project is complete, Ishikawa said.


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