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For safety and shearwaters

WAILUA — Traffic has been heavier than usual traffic in the Wailua corridor, thanks to a state Department of Transportation tree-trimming project on an irrigation ditch alongside Kuhio Highway.

Drivers planning on making the trip between Kapaa and Lihue should allow plenty of time for travel, as this work is scheduled to continue through Friday, Nov. 8, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Specifically, the vegetation-removal project is between Leho Drive and Kauai Beach Road, according to HDOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.

Since Oct. 28, traffic has been backed up from the area near Wailua Golf Course, over the Wailua River bridge and up the Kapaa bypass road during construction, and the effects have lingered through the afternoons.

Meanwhile, similar impacts have been evident stemming from vegetation removal near Kalaheo between Lauoho Road and Silva Tract Road. That’s triggered some traffic on the South Side as well, especially during rush hour in the mornings. Work in that area wrapped up Thursday, according to HDOT.

The same occurred in 2018 when HDOT did tree trimming and other vegetation removal in October along the Wailua corridor.

Despite the increase in traffic, work has to happen during day, because of two factors — safety and shearwaters.

“In the case of tree trimming, we don’t work at night because it’s more dangerous for the staff,” Kunishige said. “It’s also shearwater fledging from September through Dec. 15 and we’re not allowed to conduct night work without a waiver from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Newell’s shearwaters are endangered and protected seabirds that nest in burrows in Kauai’s mountain country. When they emerge from their burrows and take their first flight, or fledge, they use the moon to navigate to the ocean.

Lights of night work could disturb that pattern and cause fall-out, or birds to land before reaching the ocean and becoming vulnerable to predators or being hit by cars.

Other ongoing HDOT projects on Kauai include slope stabilization along Kuhio Highway in Hanalei and the Hanapepe River bridge construction.

A single-lane closure is on Kuhio Highway, and traffic is alternated in the open lane from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. just before the Hanalei Bridge at mile marker 1. Traffic is still flowing over a temporary bridge in Hanapepe as work continues, and the speed limit has been lowered to 25 mph.
Source: The Garden Island

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