The road is a major thoroughfare for the eastern and northern parts of Kauaiʻi. Leaving Lihue, the road passes through the only Wal-Mart and the major hospital on the island. The road connects with Hawaii Route 51 to Lihue Airport. Following the intersection the road briefly passes through some rural patches with the occasional resort before crossing the Wailua River. At the Wailua River, there is a two lane southbound bridge and also a two lane northbound bridge. A bridge expansion was completed in 2011. Going through Wailua and Kapaa, Hawaii 56 is jammed in the morning and the afternoon. Contra flow alleviates rush hour traffic in the morning between Kapaa and Lihue Airport. The southbound lane gets two lanes in the morning to alleviate traffic pressures. Contra flow traffic starts at 6:00 AM on weekdays and 8:00 AM Saturday. Traffic is switched back to normal starting from the north at 11:00 am weekdays and 1:30 pm on Saturday. The traffic pressure dissipates going through some of the most gorgeous scenic countryside with few services and buildings from Kapaa heading towards Princeville. The bridge over the Kalihiwai river west of Kilauea is particularly scenic.