Major landslide closes Kuhio Highway on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii

Highway officials say it may take crews about a few days to partially clear the debris

March 12, 2021 / 1 minute read
Major landslide closes Kuhio Highway on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii
Image: Hawaii DOT via Twitter

The Hawaii DOT (HDOT) is working to clear a massive landslide on Kuhio Highway (Route 560) on the north shore of Kauai and maintain closures until the agency can safely assess and stabilize the slopes.

On March 10, the agency said rocks and dirt were coming down at the Hanalei Hill location. "The heavy rains continuing to impact Kauai creates a situation where it is not safe or prudent to conduct the assessments and repairs necessary to reopen the lanes," the agency said Wednesday.

Yesterday, the agency said water and soil were continuing to come off the slope. The agency tweeted a photo of a large landslide that has completely blocked the road and affected the pavement.

Both lanes of Kuhio Highway at mile marker 1 (“Hanalei Hill”) approaching Hanalei Bridge were impacted, as well as a single lane of Kuhio Highway at mile marker 4.5 near Waikoko. HDOT also said a new closure of Kuhio Highway between Kolopua Apartments and Hanalei Plantation Road is being put in place out of an abundance of caution.

According to a report from Hawaii News Now, highway officials said it may take state and county crews about five days to partially clear the debris from the landslide.

HDOT also said this recent slide near Mile Marker 1 is on the Wainiha side of a shallow slide that occurred during the 2018 floods. Due to the shallow nature of the slide, the agency said they had protected this area with a mesh covering the slope and a rockfall fence that would capture any loose debris from above. This is outside of the area stabilized with soil anchors following the 2018 floods. The current slide is much deeper than the previous event at this location, but not as wide. The agency has also observed a lot more water exiting the slope in this location than the previous event.

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UPDATE March 15, 2021:

HDOT released an update on March 14 saying the slope at Hanalei Hill has been stabilized enough that work to clear the road of landslide materials from the larger landslide on March 11 could begin. Large amounts of debris were removed from the roadway and the pavement and slope below the road appear to be in good condition. HDOT continues to target early next week, weather permitting, to establish single-lane emergency access through the area.

A report from Hawaii News Now says officials estimate it could take three months for Kuhio Highway to fully reopen, though does say a partial reopening is expected next week.

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SOURCE: Hawaii DOT / Hawaii News Now

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