Pali Highway nearing end of the road to construction
The Pali highway is on the road to recovery.
2019 has been the year of closures, construction and congestion for Pali drivers. There will still be more overnight lane closures for drivers headed into town, but state finally opened things up Monday. Now the road will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for Kailua bound drivers.
The state also re-opened the Pali Lookout.
"My wife and I have been coming here for years and we enjoy taking in the view. The Pali Lookout is absolutely beautiful and one of the most beautiful places on the island," said Matt Hanna, a visitor from California.
For much of this year, the Pali Lookout was closed. The parking lot was instead used as a staging area for construction equipment needed to stabilize the slope from February's landslide.
"We were hoping it would be reopened while we were here. We're leaving tomorrow, so it was perfect timing today," said Lisa McClendon, a visitor from Los Angeles.
Along with the lookout reopening, the Pali Highway will permanently have at least one lane open.
The road was expected to reopen sooner, but wet weather and protests slowed things down.
"Unfortunately we had 40% rainouts and we also issues with delivery of materials at Kalaeloa Harbor," said DOT Director Jade Butay.
There remains more work to be done, about six more weeks of construction and road improvements according to Butay, "We still need to work on the rock shed and the pavement, as well as the guardrail and electrical."
While the frustration of construction congestion isn't quite yet over, drivers may be relieved it should be twice as long before they deal with future roadside repairs to safety improvements.
"For this project we are using materials that are more durable and long lasting," added Butay.
The Department of Transportation also made one Pali Tunnel even longer -- just to keep any future rock falls away from drivers.
"In the past we just put a mesh to stabilize the slope. In this one because of the size of the boulders than came down, we extended the tunnel 80 feet to increase the safety for motorists," stated Butay.
Now there is light at the end of the tunnel...when it comes to construction congestion, and traffic delays on the Pali highway.
"We appreciate the patience of the public. It has been a sacrifice. I have family members who live in Kailua and they always complain to me
," added Butay.
Three different parts of The Pali highway have been on the state's rockfall priority list, which means once they finish up this project, they will focus their efforts on other hazardous highways - like Kamehameha Highway on Oahu's North Shore at Waimea Bay, and Hawaii Belt Road near Laupahoehoe on the Big Island.