DOT crews assessing damage to Highway 11

  • The northbound lane of Highway 11 was closed for road work Wednesday near Piimauna Drive in Volcano.

    HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The northbound lane is closed for road work on Highway 11 Wednesday near Piimauna Drive in Volcano.

One lane of Highway 11 was closed Wednesday as state Department of Transportation crews addressed a sinkhole that opened in the road’s surface last week.

Shelly Kunishige of the DOT’s public affairs office said crews will repair the sinkhole that opened on the highway’s outbound shoulder on July 19. Crews will remain on Highway 11 until Friday to assess other damage to the roadway.

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Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said the stretch of Highway 11 that passes through the park continues to degrade on a daily basis because of near-constant seismic activity. The speed limit between the 28 and 32 mile markers was reduced to 25 mph.

The lava flow from fissure 8 continues to enter the ocean near Ahalanui, and the western margin of the flow had not significantly advanced further west as of Wednesday evening, keeping the flow approximately 500 feet away from the Pohoiki boat ramp in Isaac Hale Beach Park.

Darwin Okinaka, battalion chief with the Hawaii Fire Department, said lava entered the park on the Kapoho side and might have taken a playground.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources representatives flying in a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane searched for green sea turtles that might be trapped by lava flowing into the ocean, but did not see any Wednesday, the agency said in a press release. That followed social media postings showing trapped turtles.

According to DLNR, relocating animals is fraught with challenges and there is no guarantee turtles with strong territory instincts won’t return. The agency said the flight was the third such mission in 10 days to look for turtles in distress.

Residents affected by the lava can still obtain disaster assistance at the Disaster Recovery Center, but the center will change its location starting Monday (July 30). The center will remain open for its usual hours — 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays — at Keaau High School until Saturday, but starting next week it moves to the Pahoa Community Center. The new location will keep the same hours.

As of Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had issued $4.5 million in grants, while the U.S. Small Business Association had approved $16.75 million in loans, $13.1 million of which was to homeowners.

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Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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