We have the latest update from the state, and starting September 4, there is excellent news for residents and visitors wishing to travel from Princeville to Hanalei and beyond. We have been closely following progress since the historic Hanalei Landslide closed the highway in March and as recently as this morning.
After the incident, the road was made partially accessible to the public, including visitors, during set hours. The highway has been limited to one alternating lane during specific hours only, weekdays, with more flexibility on weekends.
Some restrictions will continue until all phases of repairs are completed, which will take significant time.
Updated access to Hanalei effective September 4.
The State DOT said yesterday that it would provide access 24-hours a day starting September 4. There are still restrictions, albeit far less than before. It should then be possible to travel in both directions without significant delay.
The DOT reported last month that all 545 soil nails had been installed to anchor the upper hillside. The completion of the concrete in that area (as seen in the photo) appears completed. The removal of debris and the preparation of the second lane are ongoing. In the past week, we noticed that the second lane had been cleared, and some ditch alongside that lane has been dug. How that ditch will be used isn’t clear. Drainage for the upper slope is complete.
In the next phase of repairs, following the second lane being restored on September 4, drainage for the lower portion of the slope will be implemented, while repairs to manage effluent from the ancient water tunnel and soil nails and wire mesh below the highway level will also be completed. That phase is still in design, and we anticipate that it will take many months, if not longer, for the entire process to be completed.
Tips for accessing Hanalei and beyond starting September 4.
For this next phase, traffic should be a consideration, while far less than previously, when the road was only open three times per weekday. Our top choices on when to travel from now on are as follows:
- Sunday when there’s no construction or state holidays. Normal traffic flow with both lanes operating continuously, so there should be no backup in either direction, with no wait times.
- Monday-Saturday: 530 pm to 7 am. As with Sundays, both lanes will operate continuously with no delays anticipated.
- Monday-Saturday: 7 am to 530 pm. Expect only brief delays, as there will be one single-lane operating continuously with alternating traffic directed by a pilot vehicle escort. Note: Before September 4, this was how the road operated on Sundays, and we have only encountered brief delays under those conditions. Those managing the traffic flow have been doing an excellent job. The backup going north usually starts at the entrance to Princeville but moves fast.
Public road access schedule through September 3, 2021.
Access leading to the Hanalei Bridge is on the following schedule. Vehicles are escorted through the work zone by pilot vehicles.
Saturdays (note the 30-minute closure on the hour)
5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Hanalei side goes first)
8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
5:30 p.m. to midnight.
5:30 a.m. to midnight. (Hanalei side goes first)
5:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. (Hanalei side goes first)
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Except Wednesday. Princeville side goes first)
12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (on Wednesday only. Princeville side goes first)
*5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Princeville side goes first)
*Tip: This opening has the shortest wait time during the week.
Here’s what occurred in March.
An enormous mudslide occurred near the site of an earlier 2018 landslide. This landslide resulted in tens of thousands of cubic yards of mud slid down onto the highway, effectively cutting off regular access for communities of Hanalei, Wainiha, and Haena from the rest of the island.
The mudslide and subsequent road closure took place on the North Shore of Kauai near mile marker 1, approaching the Hanalei Bridge in an area called “Hanalei Hill.” You know this area as the location where you wind down the hill following Princeville shopping center towards Hanalei.
DOT had previously protected the area with mesh slope covering and a rockfall fence to capture debris. This landslide, however, is “Outside of the area we stabilized with soil anchors following the 2018 Floods. The current slide is much deeper than the previous event at this location, but thankfully not as wide.” That according to the State DOT.
The state said that the most recent mudslide is related to an irrigation tunnel dating back to the 1800s. HDOT worked to identify the water sources feeding into the tunnel.
The DOT said, “Monitoring of the road above the Hanalei Hill landslide, Kuhio Highway between Kolopua Apartments and Hanalei Plantation Road, will continue and HDOT will maintain this closure out of an abundance of caution.”
BOH photo of recent conditions with upper slope concrete stabilization.
DOT photo below was taken soon after the landslide occurred.