Pali Highway Emergency Repair update – May 2019

Posted on May 15, 2019 in Highways News, Main, News

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) provides the following update on the Pali Highway Emergency Repairs following the Feb. 18, 2019 landslide and rockfall.

Crews are currently working on installing a mesh system to stabilize the slope between the Pali Tunnels and to repair the damaged electrical building between the tunnels. The contractor is also installing the attenuator system between Old Pali Road and the highway. The attenuator system will work in combination with a new tunnel structure before the existing Honolulu-bound tunnel entrance to catch falling rocks and soil. Those traveling Pali Highway may notice heavy machinery, including cranes, in the closed Honolulu-bound lanes as the contractor installs the attenuator system and drills the shafts for the new tunnel structure.

Estimated cost of the attenuator/tunnel rockfall mitigation system and the emergency work to date is $20 million. HDOT requested Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief (ER) program funds to help with this unanticipated cost. The ER program assists states with repair and/or reconstruction costs from extraordinary damage due to natural disasters on a cost share, reimbursement basis.

As the emergency work continues on Pali Highway, HDOT must still address the maintenance needs on the remaining Koolau routes, the H-3 Freeway and the Likelike Highway. As much as possible, HDOT is avoiding scheduling major closures on these routes during the day. In certain cases, major closures of these routes are unavoidable. When this is the case, HDOT will stop work and make Pali Highway available. Announcement of the off-schedule access to Pali Highway is made through the HDOT news release distribution, posting to, and HDOT’s social media accounts.

Access to Pali Highway is coordinated Monday through Friday, excluding weekends and holidays to maximize the time available for emergency slope stabilization. Access hours are:

AM Honolulu-bound contraflow between 5-9 a.m.

PM access to Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes between 3-7 p.m.

Frequently asked questions on the Pali Highway emergency work:

1) Why can’t we have contraflow in the Kailua bound lanes all day?

For the safety of everyone involved, HDOT is restricting access between the tunnels during work on the slopes. During access hours, the emergency work crews avoid any work that may disturb the slope. HDOT avoids contraflowing traffic within tunnels except in the most extreme circumstances due to safety concerns relating to head on traffic within tunnels. Contractors may also be on both sides of the highway during work hours as they use the Kailua bound lanes to work on the Honolulu bound side.

2) Will the Honolulu bound AM Contraflow and Kailua bound access be open on holidays?

HDOT is working with the contractor to substantially complete the Pali Highway Emergency Work and the repaving of the Honolulu-bound lanes of Pali Highway between Castle Junction and Waokanaka Street by the end of August 2019. Allowing the contractor to work on weekends and holidays helps with the accelerated scheduling.

3) Are crews really working between the access hours?

Yes. Crews are working to install the slope mesh, repair the electrical building for the tunnel lights, and install the attenuator system. Drilling in preparation for the foundations of the new tunnel structure began on Monday, May 13.

4) I got to Castle Junction at 8:57 a.m. and was not let through. Why didn’t they keep it open until 9 a.m.?

The contractor for the traffic control allowing safe access to Pali Highway for the AM and PM commute has been informed of the concerns and do adhere to our posted access hours.

Traffic control personnel begin shifting lanes 20-minutes prior to the closure times and close promptly to allow the contractors the time they need to work on the emergency repairs. If you are planning on taking the AM Honolulu-bound contraflow or the PM access to the Kailua/Kaneohe bound lanes, HDOT recommends giving yourself adequate time to clear any congestion leading to Castle Junction or Waokanaka Street. If you are within a half hour of the closing time before you leave home or work, please consider taking another Koolau route. As a reminder, travel time information for the H-3 Freeway and Likelike Highway is now available on