KAILUA-KONA — The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation has removed occupants of a roadside homeless encampment, officials said.
The individuals were living in brush near a highway intersection on the Big Island when state officials removed them Monday, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday.
The homeless encampment at the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua spanned state and county lands, as well as property owned by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust and Hawaiian Telcom, Inc., the newspaper reported.
The trust has previously removed homeless people before Monday, while transportation officials were tasked with clearing the remaining area as a safety measure following multiple complaints, the newspaper reported.
The action was a state-led collaboration with Hawaii County that followed an effort last year to clear homeless people from an area of storm water drains known locally as the Tunnels, according to Ed Sniffen, transportation department highways division deputy director.
"It's a statewide initiative for us to ensure that we keep our highway areas safe," Sniffen said. "We've been seeing a lot more incidents of homeless interactions or conflicts with vehicles, especially in areas you don't expect them."
The brush would be cut back to enable crews to conduct a more thorough cleanup in the area, Sniffen said.
The transportation department pulled 10 truckloads of trash from the Palani Road intersection and expected the Tunnels would produce another four truckloads, Sniffen said.
Clearances of state lands on Oahu happen weekly, while workers have only been enlisted on a limited basis across Maui and the Big Island, the newspaper reported.