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Landslides Close State Highways and Roads Around the State

Roadways on Maui, Oahu, and Hawaii Island have been shuttered by landslides in recent days. Even more are threatened by erosion that is expected to worsen in the coming years. The State Department of Transportation rushed an emergency request to state lawmakers for $15 million in funds to repair the Pali Highway that connects Honolulu to Windward Oahu.

The Kailua-bound side of that vital thoroughfare is currently closed, with a contra flow lane in place in the Honolulu-bound lane. Rockfalls also shutdown West Maui's Honoapiilani Highway, as well as the only road into Waipio Valley on the Big Island. 

Communitities on the North Shore of Kauai are still dealing with limited road access following rain-induced landslides last year.

According to University of Hawaii geologist Steven Martel, the area around the Pali Highway contains some of the weakest and least-stable rock on Oahu. He told HPR that the area's steep slopes and high rain fall make it a high risk area for landslides.

On Thursday, the state Department of Transportation submitted a request for $15 million in emergency funding to pay for repairs to the Pali, which are expected to take months. On Friday morning that request was given approval from the state Senate's Ways and Means Committee.

Guests for this discussion include:

  • Shelly Kunishige spokeswoman for the State Department of Transportation
  • University of Hawaii Professor Steve Martel, with the Department of Geology and Geophysic
  • East Maui  Councilmember Shane Sinenci
  • Ralph  Faufata, The Bus Vice President for Transportation

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Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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