Hawaii County anticipates completing a temporary road over lava-covered portions of Highway 132 by September or October.
The estimated schedule was posted on the county’s eruption recovery website Tuesday.
About 3 miles of the road is covered by lava, including about 1.7 miles to a kipuka, where homes and farms still remain, from last year’s Kilauea eruption.
The timeline depends on the county acquiring necessary permits and potentially an alternative study that will recommend whether the county road should be rebuilt at all.
The website says that study could be done in December, but Public Works Director David Yamamoto said that likely will be done in the summer.
“Frankly, we would like to wait for the alternative study to initiate any work on temporary or permanent roads,” he said Wednesday. “People will get really disappointed if we open up a road and have to close it again.”
The county spent about $190,000 building a temporary road over less than a mile of lava-covered portions of Highway 137 between MacKenzie State Recreation Area and Isaac Hale Beach Park. The county is seeking reimbursement for 75 percent of the cost from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Highway 132 funding is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration. County officials say the agency agreed to pay 100 percent of the costs for a temporary road, and 80 percent of the cost for full restoration, if those are determined to be feasible.
A temporary road over the Highway 132 alignment could cost from $1.2 million to $1.4 million, based on the cost of the Highway 137 temporary road, Yamamoto said. However, he said estimates go as high as $2 million because the lava flows are thicker on Highway 132.
The county wouldn’t remove the entire flow, only grade what it needs to, but the terrain is expected to be more challenging on Highway 132, which could inflate the cost.
Full restoration of the highway could cost $40 million to $50 million, Yamamoto said.
While the alternative study isn’t complete, he said the county is moving ahead, assuming it gets a favorable recommendation on restoring road access.
“We’re preparing as though it’s going (ahead),” Yamamoto said. “We’re just being prepared to go forward with actually restoring the road.”
In addition to Highway 132, the county roughly estimated other lava-inundated roads would cost $170 million to restore. Funding for other roads falls under FEMA’s jurisdiction.
Puna Geothermal Venture, which restored road access to its site off Highway 132, is planning a community meeting later this month to discuss road access through its location.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.