Police remind motorists to drive with caution on Saddle Road
With the weekend here and Mauna Loa continuing to erupt, the Hawai‘i Police Department reminds motorists to drive with caution on Daniel K. Inouye Highway, or Saddle Road.
Increased traffic on the highway is causing congestion between Maunakea Access Road and Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area as people flock to see the lava flows on the volcano’s Northeast Rift Zone. Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth’s Emergency Rule No. 2, issued Nov. 30, prohibits parking and traversing or walking on the highway and its shoulders between the 16-mile marker and Highway 190, or Hawaiʻi Belt Road. Anyone who violates the rule could face a fine of up to $1,000.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” said Maj. John Briski with the Hawai‘i Police Department’s Area I Operations Bureau. “We continue to ask for voluntary compliance with parking restrictions and will be issuing citations and towing vehicles if necessary.”
Since the eruption began, police have issued 28 citations related to parking issues in prohibited areas along Saddle Road.
The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation has lowered the speed limit on portions of the highway approaching mile marker 28.5 as part of the County’s traffic hazard safety plan. The revised speed limit approaching the mile marker will be reduced by 10 mph increments until it is 35 mph. The speed limit returns to 60 mph roughly 3,000 feet from mile marker 28.5.
To increase public safety and reduce traffic congestion, a new one-way 4.5-mile route was also created along the highway on an old saddle road, with the entrance located directly across from Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. Parking will only be allowed on the right side of the road and no vehicle can remain in the area for more than 90 minutes.
The Hawai‘i Police Department urges motorists to be extra vigilant when driving on Daniel K. Inouye Highway and not take risks to view the lava.