WAIPA, Hawaii (AP) — Protesters formed a human chain and blocked tourists from using a Kauai highway to access an area they said cannot support a large influx of people, according to reports.
A 2-mile (3-kilometer) stretch of the Kuhio Highway was reopened by police Monday before 7 a.m., news organizations reported Tuesday.
No arrests were made when protesters allowed construction workers and residents through, but turned away about 50 tourists.
Protesters said the region has not been viable for tourism since April 2018.
Extensive flooding that month closed several popular attractions including the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, Haena State Park, Kee Beach, Kalalau Trail, Haena Beach Park, and Limahuli Garden & Preserve.
Reopening the region has put people and natural resources in jeopardy, protesters said.
Bringing tourism back to Kauai’s north shore turned the area into “another Waikiki,” said protester and Halelea resident Ka’imi Hermosura-Konohiki
“They would rather accommodate tourists than listen to the residents’ concerns,” Hermosura-Konohiki said. “We’ve met with all of the agencies and government and they won’t listen — that’s why we are here today. We want them to close the community to tourists until the road work is done and plans are coordinated to receive them.”
Department of Transportation, Kauai County and state tourism officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Residents formed a stronger bond during the road closure, some residents said.
“It’s been like a gated community,” said Wainiha resident Gil Nieto. “We probably can’t ride our bikes down the road anymore like we could before.”