HONOLULU - UPDATE 2/22 9:00 P.M.

Pali Highway has been officially declared a 'Disaster Area' Friday. 

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green on behalf of Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation authorizing state funds for repairs.

The emergency relief period runs through April 22nd.

UPDATE 2/22 5:00 P.M.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation advises drivers that the Honolulu-bound contraflow using the Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes of Pali Highway will continue next week, Monday, Feb. 25 through Friday, March 1, 2019.

Pali Highway between Castle Junction and Waokanaka Street will remain closed over the next two weekends as crews continue to remove loose material from the slope faces above the highway as well as debris and boulders from the highway.

An update including proposed slope stabilization designs and a revised schedule for access using the Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes is anticipated for the week of March 4.

The schedule for access to Pali Highway between its intersection with Kamehameha Highway (Castle Junction) and Waokanaka Street is:

  • Honolulu bound morning contraflow

Two lanes of Honolulu bound traffic are available Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.

An updated diagram showing the contraflow entry and exit points is available by clicking here.

  • Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes open for evening commute

Access to the Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes of Pali Highway are available Monday through Friday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Additionally, HDOT is asking hikers to avoid the Likeke Falls Hike below Pali Highway until further notice.

Rock scaling operations, the dislodging of loose material from the slope face, will continue above Pali Highway over the weekend. Onsite observations show some of the material is continuing downslope of the highway towards the Koolau Golf Course and could pose a rockfall danger to those on the trail below the highway.

The Nuuanu Pali State Wayside (also known as the Pali Lookout) remains closed due to the closure of Pali Highway.

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UPDATE 2/21 7 A.M.

Honolulu-bound traffic is being contraflowed to the Kailua-bound lanes for the weekday morning commute. What this means, is that if you are on the Windward side, you'll take the Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali Highway to get to town.

To enter the Honolulu-bound contraflow, drivers need to crossover to the opposite side of the highway at the intersection to Saint Stephen's Center. Drivers will eventually re-enter the Honolulu-bound side of the highway at the Nuuanu Pali Drive intersection near the reservoir. 

This essentially means Kailua-bound traffic in the morning will be completely off limits. However, Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali will be open during the weekday afternoon commute between the hours of 3 p.m. And 7 p.m 

This is all because a series of landslides that caused major damage to the hillside and Old Pali Road. Stabilizing the slope of the hill above the highway and preventing more rockfall could take months to complete.

Hawaii Department of Transportation crews will monitor the contraflow and may stop traffic if need be. 

UPDATE 7:12 P.M.

Kalanianaole Highway contraflow hours will be extended to 9:00 a.m. Thursday and Friday due to the closure of Pali Highway.

Department Transportation Services is working closely with Hawaii Department of Transportation, and will continue to monitor and extend the traffic signal timing along the various corridors that are impacted by the Pali Highway closure.

UPDATE 6:56 P.M.

The portion of Old Pali Road damaged in the Monday rockfall has successfully been cut away and no longer poses a threat to the highway below. As such, HDOT will contraflow two lanes of Honolulu-bound traffic in the Kailua/Kaneohe bound direction of the Pali Highway. To enter the Honolulu-bound contraflow motorists will crossover to the opposite side of the highway at the intersection to Saint Stephen’s Diocesan Center and will reenter the Honolulu-bound side of the Highway at the Nuuanu Pali Drive intersection adjacent to the Nuuanu Reservoir. The morning Honolulu-bound contraflow will be in operation from 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. A map of the contraflow area is available here.

When the Honolulu-bound contraflow is in operations no Kailua/Kaneohe bound traffic will be permitted to travel through the area. HDOT crews will monitor during the contraflow and may stop traffic if the situation warrants.

The Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes of Pali Highway will be open during the afternoon commute between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. beginning Thursday, Feb. 21. These afternoon hours will be in place on weekdays as well.

In the time between the Honolulu-bound contraflow and the afternoon Kailua/Kaneohe bound openings, HDOT will continue to work to stabilize the slope above Pali Highway between the tunnels. Currently HDOT is investigating two possibilities to stabilize the slope and mitigate rockfall—slope stabilization via soil nails and shotcrete and extension of the tunnel structure on the Honolulu-bound side to deflect or catch rocks. An update will be provided when the appropriate solution is chosen. The work is anticipated to take months to complete.

Motorists are asked to remain patient and exercise caution if they choose to access Pali Highway during the morning Honolulu-bound contraflow or the afternoon Kailua/Kaneohe bound opening.

In addition, the following adjustments have been made to reduce congestion on the alternate routes:

  • The Kalanianaole Highway westbound HOV/Contraflow hours have been extended to 9 a.m. through Friday, Feb. 22. Normal hours for this special use lane are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.
  • The City and County of Honolulu has adjusted the traffic signal timing on Likelike Highway to prioritize Honolulu-bound traffic during the morning rush hours.
  • Previously planned lane closures for this week on Likelike Highway and the H-3 Freeway have been postponed.

5:50 P.M.

Following an assessment on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, HDOT determined that it would not be feasible to open the Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali Highway for this afternoon’s commute prior to the stabilization of Old Pali Road. Crews are currently working to remove a section of Old Pali Road that is hanging above the highway.

Once this work is completed and the area is safe for motorists, HDOT plans to contraflow the Honolulu-bound traffic into the Kailua-bound lanes for the weekday morning commute from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Crews will be monitoring the area during these hours and may close the contraflow if the situation warrants. An update will be released announcing the beginning of the contraflow.

Honolulu-bound motorists will enter the contraflow at the intersection to Saint Stephen’s Diocesan Center and exit at the Nuuanu Pali Drive intersection adjacent to the Nuuanu Reservoir. See contraflow map by clicking here.

In an effort to ease the resulting congestion, HDOT and the City’s Department of Facility Maintenance will extend the hours of the Kalanianaole Highway morning HOV contraflow until 9 a.m.

Motorists are encouraged to use the H-3 Freeway, Likelike Highway, and Kalanianaole Highway as alternate routes. Previously planned lane closures have been postponed on the Likelike Highway and H-3 Freeway this week. It is also encouraged to check GoAkamai.org or traffic apps such as Google and Waze for traffic conditions before getting behind the wheel.

1:36 P.M.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation announced that Kailua bound lanes of the Pali Highway will not be opened Wednesday afternoon due to safety concerns. 

2/20 7:44 a.m.

Debris and concrete continued to fall on the Honolulu bound direction of the Highway. HDOT says they are working to stabilize the area. 

2/19 at 9 p.m.

An assessment by the Hawaii Department of Transportation late Tuesday, February 19, indicates a portion of Old Pali Road above Pali Highway is shifting and poses additional risk to the highway.

Old Pali Road was damaged by the large rockslide originating from the slopes above the road that ended up closing the highway. All access to Pali Highway between the tunnels is suspended until the damaged part of Old Pali Road is secured.

Previously we reported that emergency responders would be escorted through the closure area, but as of 9 p.m. Tuesday they will not be able to go through as well. 

Before HDOT crews can clear the debris from the highway, HDOT must stabilize the rock slopes and remove the debris from Old Pali Road. Geotechnical assessments of the slope above Old Pali Road will continue early Wednesday, Feb. 20. These assessments will inform the extent of the work necessary to stabilize the upper slopes and estimated timeline for clearing the debris from Old Pali Road.

Observations indicate that the damaged portion of Old Pali Road has already shifted 18-inches towards the highway. There is a potential that the roadway and additional debris may fall on the highway before crews can start debris clearance.

As such, the road will remain closed to all, including emergency responders, until further notice. HDOT is still working towards temporarily opening the Kailua-bound Pali Highway between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; however, this will not be possible until the debris and damaged portions of Old Pali Road are stabilized and/or removed.

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The Pali Highway remains closed Tuesday evening after multiple landslides Monday. 

Temporary relief is coming. State Department of Transportation is planning to open the Kailua  bound direction of the Pali from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

Waimanalo resident Natalia Valero was stuck in traffic in her commute along the Likelike Highway like this morning. She gets from home to work on Alakea Street in about a half hour normally. 

“It took me two hours this morning,” Valero said. Landslides in both directions along Pali last night forced the closure, which put extra vehicles along alternate routes today, causing a traffic chaos. 

It took Kapolei resident Jeremi Cole an hour and a half to get from Kapolei to Downtown Honolulu.

“Generally when we take that, it takes about 35 minutes, today we used Waze and it told us to take the Farrington and the Kam and it took us all over the place,” Cole said. 

Constance Ufuti’s trip from Kahalu'u to Queen's Medical Center via Likelike Highway normally takes 20 minutes but took over an hour this morning. 

As the clean-up continues, DOT expects some of the same traffic trouble Wednesday. 

“I'll just have to rearrange my schedule having to wake up earlier and it is going to be frustrating but I mean you got to do what you gotta do,” Valero said.

The Kailua bound traffic is being turned around at Waokanaka Street. Honolulu bound traffic is detoured at Castle Junction. 

Drivers can use the H-3 Freeway, Likelike Highway, and Kalanianaole Highway as alternate routes.