Hawai`i Roads - HI 240

HI 240

Lehua St. NB, a shortcut from HI 19 EB to HI 240 WB to Waipi`o Valley. This is one of the rare leftovers from before Hawai`i renumbered its secondary state highways with an extra 0; there's one on HI 330 shown on my main Big Island page.

The western stub end of Waipi`o Rd., where HI 240 curves sharp right to meet its old alignment, Kukuihaele Rd. through the eponymous village. The other case where there's a stub highway like this is HI 31, and in that case the highway was supposed to continue for several miles (read about it there). In this case, HDOT planned to swing HI 240 back around toward Waimea, but apparently not down a gentler grade to Waipi`o Valley (thanks to Oscar Voss for correcting me).

The end of the road for pretty much anyone, and the end of HI 240 as well, at one of the steepest grades ever conceived to be open to vehicular traffic. 25% equates to 14 degrees of slope (the tangent of degrees is % slope), whereas most roads top out at 6%-8% (3 to 4 degrees). The ride is worth it if you have the right vehicle - the Waipi`o Valley is among the most pristine and scenic in the state, which may be why HI 240 is still a stub - but sometimes even people with the wrong vehicle take the road. I noticed a Mustang convertible roar its way up, for example. As long as you don't get caught, the risk is either burning out the brakes or the engine - or having wheels slip when the road is slick with no way to recover.

The view from the safety of the visitors' overlook, turning into the Waipi`o Valley settlement that's nearly impossible to get to but apparently worth it for a farmer or two.

If you dare to try it, here's how the journey begins, with a one-lane hairpin turn followed by a fairly blind cliffside curve at a 14-degree slope. It continues like that for another mile or two all the way down to the coastline 600 feet below. (Yes, a 25% grade would only require half a mile to get down there, but not the whole road is that steep, and there's a half-mile run back to Waipi`o Park from the bottom.) Here is a rare shot of two SUV's going down the hill together - not advised in case the one in back runs into a problem.

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