A Smoother Saddle Road

It has been a week since the paving machine began it’s slow work. Gone is the patchwork of pavement, a road seemingly built by many years of repair crews, so many patches that little remained of whatever pavement originally existed. Bit by bit the ragged road we have bounced over for many years is being covered by a smooth surface.

Paving Saddle
Crews laying asphalt on Saddle Road near MP40 in 2009
The machine has reached milepost 48, a half mile more than that in the Kona bound lane. The first layer mostly completed by the county crews. From there to the district line the lanes are pleasant and smooth drive, such a contrast from the old pavement. This latest segment leads to the section that was paved last year, from MP48 to the rebuilt sections across PTA, the road is nothing like the rough experience of Saddle Road past. The only rough section remaining is the few miles from MP48 to the western terminus at Mamalahoa highway.

While making a pass in each lane, the crews left about a foot in the middle unpaved for now, keeping the center line exposed, and creating a road a few inches wider. Breaking with tradition, no one drives the center of the road in the repaved section, avoiding the small trough created between the lanes.

The infamous Saddle Road of fable and legend is vanishing, repaved or completely rebuilt. Those of us who drive it regularly enjoy the new smooth ride, but in some ways we also mourn the disappearance of the real Saddle Road.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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