Multiple road projects slow Hamakua traffic

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Repaving and landscaping work takes place near mile maker 42 Tuesday in Honokaa.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Landscaping and shoulder work reduces Highway 19 traffic to one lane between mile markers 26 and 27 Tuesday in Laupahoehoe Gulch.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Road repairs continue near mile marker 11 on Highway 19Tuesday in Pepeekeo.

Drivers might face significant delays along the Hamakua Coast this week as several construction projects reduce Highway 19 traffic to one lane only at multiple points.

Repaving and landscaping work will take place between mile markers 36 and 42 in Hamakua through Friday. Farther south, road repairs will take place near mile marker 11 in Pepeekeo, and landscaping and shoulder work will be conducted at mile markers 26 and 27 in Laupahoehoe Gulch.

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At each of the areas being worked on, traffic will be reduced to one lane, which can lead to lengthy traffic delays as well as general traffic disruptions in the surrounding areas.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said the department tries to space road work projects so that multiple projects don’t occur on the same road in the same week, but sometimes such cases are unavoidable.

Because of this, drivers are advised to set out early if their routes pass through the construction zones, in particular the Laupahoehoe Gulch, which Kunishige said might present the most substantial delays.

The traffic backups have caused disruptions at businesses along Highway 19.

Duke Baker, owner of Honokaa diner Tex Drive In, said tourists have had a hard time pulling onto his business’ street, which is located within the northernmost construction zone.

That road, Pakalana Street, also leads to Honokaa High and Intermediate School, which had its operations impacted during the shutdown because of a higher volume of traffic passing through the street, evidently attempting to bypass the construction.

“We had more cars coming in today, and more trucks trying to come through, too,” said Daphne Honma, vice principal for Honokaa High.

Because work in most of the construction areas begins at 8 a.m., school buses and commuting teachers were largely not delayed, Honma said.

However, drivers also should be aware that the construction in Pepeekeo will begin at 7 p.m. throughout the week.

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All of the current projects on Highway 19 are scheduled to end Friday, with no projects currently scheduled for the weekend.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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