Man, I hate it when I make a correct guess about something negative. The Pali Highway and Lookout to remain closed until August, which is the earliest I thought the two would re-open.
If you haven’t already heard, heavy rains last month triggered a rockfall, triggering the closure of Pali Highway and Pali Lookout. Rocks, mud, and even portions of the Old Pali Road fell onto the roadway near the tunnels. And while cleanup didn’t take too much time, continuing instability above the highway is cause for ongoing concern. Thus, Pali Highway and Pali Lookout remain closed to address long-term safety.
Until yesterday, we weren’t sure what the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HI DOT) would to improve the safety of the Pali Highway. Initially, plans included shoring up the mountainside OR extending the tunnel. However, the plan now (sort of) includes both of those elements:
- Install an attenuation system (mesh barrier) between the Old Pali Road and Pali Highway to serve as a catchment for material falling from above
- The entrance tunnel on the Honolulu-bound side of the highway is getting an 80-foot extension to provide additional protection
Unfortunately, HI DOT estimates work will take till August to complete, which puts it at about the six-month mark. And, as you’ll recall, that precisely the amount of time I thought the repair work would take. HI DOT’s original estimate placed completion around May or June.
The silver lining to this situation, though, is that HI DOT can conduct repaving work concurrently with the safety work. As a result, the repaving work will finish in August, ahead of schedule.
For the time being, the contraflow scheme currently in place is what will remain. That means Pali Highway is open to Honolulu-bound traffic Monday thru Friday from 5 am to 9 am. The highway is then reopened in the Kaneohe-bound direction from 3 pm to 7 pm. HI DOT considered expanding hours, however, they elected to keep the current hours to allow for additional work hours. Weekend access will be implemented once the most critical stabilization work is finished.
Pali Highway and Lookout to Remain Closed Until August, Final Thoughts
Again, I hate that my prediction turned out to be true. That mean’s Windward Oahu residents need to suffer through additional months of traffic frustrations. The traffic issues do spill over to one of Oahu’s other main arteries too, the H-1 Freeway, so be prepared for slightly longer travel times during peak traffic hours in general.
It’s too bad, though, that the Pali Lookout remains closed too. However, the same rockfall issue that threatens the Highway also makes the famous lookout unsafe. So keep these things in mind if you’re visiting Oahu anytime soon.