Sinkhole fix still uncertain

  • A sinkhole at Oneo Bay caused by erosion is covered and being monitored as surf pounds the undermined section of the seawall. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A sinkhole at Oneo Bay caused by erosion is being monitored as surf pounds the undermined section of the seawall. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — No timeline has been set for repairs to the growing sinkhole on Alii Drive.

Neil Azevedo, Hawaii County’s highway maintenance chief, on Tuesday said his main concern at this point is public safety. His department is monitoring the situation and will close one lane to traffic if warranted.

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Public Works Deputy Director Allan Simeon could not provide any information regarding when the sinkhole will be repaired or the extent of the damage. He said, via email, that the department is monitoring the sinkhole and assessing Alii Drive and the seawall in the vicinity of the sinkhole.

Until the assessment is complete, the county won’t know how long the work will take nor what type of repairs will need to be done, he said.

In the meantime a high surf warning was issued Tuesday by the National Weather Service for west-facing shores of Hawaii Island from North Kohala to Ka‘u. The pounding surf is a concern as it can further erode the area of the sinkhole. Sewer and utility lines also run underground in that area.

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Azevedo said the damage is caused by erosion that has undermined the seawall exposed to Oneo Bay. It’s an issue that has cropped up in the same spot for years, including in 2015 and spring of this year, and is the result of years of ocean crashing against the wall and circling in the area.

A lane shift remains in place, and the makai shoulder of the road closed to pedestrian traffic.