Engineers recommend new boat ramp for lower Puna

Engineers have recommended a new boat ramp for lower Puna, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Monday.

While it’s technically possible to remove sand and create a channel to the Pohoiki Small Boat Ramp on the lower Puna coast, an engineering study commissioned by the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation has found that measure would be expensive and full of uncertainties associated with sand movement and coastal processes continuing in and around Pohoiki Bay.

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The ramp was closed shortly after Kilauea began erupting in May 2018 and eventually became land-locked by what is now a 200-foot-wide black sand and cobblestone beach.

The engineering study found that no matter where the state builds a ramp along the lower Puna Coast it will be challenging, DLNR said in a news release Monday. Engineers studied an area extending approximately 10 miles south from Pohoiki Bay to Kalapana, where the coast road turns inland.

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“Constructing a new ramp at an alternate site would be a more straightforward project, however the rocky sea cliff Puna coastline provides few ideal locations. Seismic and volcanic activity is also a concern virtually anywhere along this coast,” DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said. “The alternate site evaluated in this study, ‘Malama Flats’ (just south of McKenzie State Recreation Area), appears to offer reasonable conditions for design of an inland excavated ramp facility, however no quantitative site information is presently available. The ramp alternative as presented is basically a generic ramp design placed on the Malama Flats topography. Estimated construction costs are considered representative for this type of ramp facility.”

Sea Engineering estimates it would cost approximately $37.9 million to restore the Pohoiki ramp while the estimated cost for a new facility at Malama Flats is estimated at $14.5 million.

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