The Pali Highway has been closed and access greatly limited to peak hour commute times since a major landslide occurred near the tunnels on February 18 of this year. Drivers, resident and visitor alike, have been forced to talk lengthy alternate routes along the Likelike Highway or Kalanianaole Highway.
The State Department of Transportation closure has jammed traffic in both directions for months. Thousands of Windward residents make the commute over the Pali daily, and traffic along the alternate routes has increased as a result. Many visitors, unaware of the closure, have been forced to turn around, consult their navigation apps and locate the alternate routes.
Certainly, businesses and residents on the far side of the Koolau Mountains are relieved to have the Pali’s hours of access extended. For many commuters, the Pali’s closure added an hour or more to the trip. Retailers and restaurants that rely on a steady flow of visitor traffic from town have seen sales thin. Repairs are expected to be completed in November.
And while that might mean shorter lines and more available parking in the bustling windward town, it also means that Mom & Pop operations feel the pinch. A lot of visitors may just pass on Kailua rather than spend an extra two hours in a rental vehicle to search for parking. There are plenty of other things to do on Oahu. Hawaii vacation hours are precious and few.
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Work continues along the Pali, as it is being resurfaced even as repairs caused by the landslide are made. The work is 24/7. The progress made thus far now allows for much more access to the quick way from Honolulu to the Windward Side. This means that popular visitor destinations like the Pali Lookout, Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach, and Kailua’s retail district are much more accessible than they have been for months.
The Pali has been a pass through the Koolau Mountains, connecting Honolulu with the Windward Side, for close to 1000 years. It was along what is now the highway that King Kamehameha the Great won a decisive battle that consolidated his rule. The first road over the Pali, “Old Pali Road”, was built in 1845. 800 human skulls were unearthed along the highway during road work in 1898. The Pali Highway tunnels were completed in 1959.
As work progresses, the extended hours allow visitors who might have been put off by the closure easy windward access that drivers have grown accustomed to over the past 50 years.
Our experts here at Hawaii Aloha Travel can help you navigate road closures on Oahu and all of the islands of the Aloha State. We’re here to help.
PALI HIGHWAY EXTENDED HOURS:
Beginning August 1, 2019, Sunday through Friday (closed on Saturday and State Holidays):
Honolulu bound AM contraflow: 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Kailua/Kaneohe bound PM access: 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.