Highway 132 to reopen Wednesday

Highway 132 in Puna, portions of which were inundated by lava during during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, will reopen at noon Wednesday, the county Department of Public Works announced this afternoon.

Work to reestablish the roadway began on June 10. The county had an original deadline of Oct. 5 to qualify for 100% reimbursement from the Federal Highway Administration.

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However, high temperatures of the lava rock slowed the work and the FHA granted the county a three-month extension. The revised deadline to complete the work was Jan. 5.

A 1.6 mile stretch of the upper portion of the highway and a 1.5 mile section of the lower portion of the road were covered in lava, leaving a kipuka, an isolated area surrounded by lava, in the mid-section of the highway. A 1,100-foot section of Government Beach Road from Four Corners, or the intersection of Highway 132 and Highway 137, to the lava inundation was also restored.

According to Public Works news release, Highway 132 has been restored to its pre-inundation function with two paved travel lanes and shoulders.

Rough grading included the excavation of 109,000 cubic yards of lava rock.

Additional work included fine grading the roadway and shoulders, paving with asphalt concrete base, as well as installing striping, markers, and signage.

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Initial construction costs were estimated at $12 million, but design was done in-house and construction managed and inspected by the department’s Engineering Division, which reduced costs to approximately $6.5 million — the amount the FHA will reimburse to the county.

Restoring the road will provide access for residents with properties in the kipuka to return to their homes and businesses, provide shorter commute to residents and businesses beyond the lava inundation on Old Government Beach Road, and facilitate emergency response in the area, the department said.

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