Access restored to Oahu's North Shore

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HONOLULU -- The Kamehameha Highway around the North Shore of Oahu reopened permanently, replacing a temporary road across the sand at Waimea Beach, three months after a rock slide closed the main road.

The fix is good news to motorcoach operators -- who were banned from driving buses across the temporary road on the sand -- and to Waimea Valley Adventure Park, where attendance has suffered since the rock slide on March 6.

The adventure park, which has its entrance next to where the road was closed, reported its visitor numbers and revenue were down 20% with the absence of the motorcoach operators who brought groups there.

When the rock slide occurred in March, Roberts Hawaii stopped visiting the North Shore in its eight circle-island tours each day. Instead, it rerouted the tours and did not report a decrease in passengers.

But the Waimea Valley Adventure Park suffered from the lack of motorcoach business.

"Now the circle-island tours will come back into being and we will see a significant jump in our business," said Ray Greene, general manager of the adventure park.

Greene said the number of solo visitors who rented cars to go around the island decreased, too, even though there was a bypass road available to them.

"In the early stages after the slide, fewer people rented cars to go around the island because there was a perception you couldn't get here," said Greene.

Greene said the park averages about 20,000 visitors a month. With the rock slide and the decrease in both motorcoach and rental car visitors, the park was getting 4,000 fewer visitors each month, he said.

"But for some reason, May was up 19% over last year, even with the motorcoach business gone," said Greene.

Roberts Hawaii, which had brought about 400 visitors each day around the island on circle-island tours before the rock slide closed the road to motorcoaches, resumed North Shore visits with the permanent reopening of the road.

When the road closed, some motorcoach companies fixed the problem by dropping off customers on one side of the slide and having them walk about 200 yards across the sand to the other side, where they were picked up by another bus.

But Roberts simply rerouted its circle-island tours through the middle of the island, and customers didn't seem to mind -- or didn't know the difference.

"Most of our customers are first-timers visitors here, and they did not consider the option of walking across the sand a good option," said a Roberts spokeswoman.

"We made sure passengers knew we were doing a modified route, but none of them seemed to care," the spokeswoman said.

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