Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2022|
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Work to fully restore Pohoiki Road is now not expected to be completed until late 2025.
County officials held a community meeting Friday
to discuss progress on
reopening several lower Puna roads closed by the 2018 Kilauea eruption.
Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst said that an environmental assessment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains the primary sticking point for the reopenings of Pohoiki Road, Lighthouse Road and stretches of Highway 137 between Pohoiki Road and Kapoho Beach Road, and between Kapoho Beach Road and the “Four Corners” intersection.
Rodenhurst said FEMA’s assessment process began in January and is required to be completed no later than January 2023.
“They have given us their commitment to beat that schedule as much as possible, but for now, for estimation purposes, we have them finishing it Q1 2023,” Rodenhurst said.
In the meantime, Rodenhurst said the county is working on securing rights of entry for the various properties affected by the construction processes.
Once the assessment is completed, Rodenhurst said the county will be able to finalize its project designs and begin the procurement process. Construction on all roads is now expected to begin within the fourth quarter of 2023.
Rodenhurst noted that the project has taken a frustratingly long time, but said that the county cannot start the procurement process until FEMA completes its assessment or else the county would risk the $61.5 million grant awarded for road reconstruction.
Most of the road projects — Highway 137 from Mackenzie State Recreation Area to Pohoiki Road, 137 from Four Corners to Kapoho Beach Road and Lighthouse Road — are now scheduled for completion within the second quarter of 2024. But Pohoiki Road itself will not be fully completed until the fourth quarter of 2025.
Rodenhurst said that late completion date includes both the upper portion of Pohoiki Road — the part inundated by lava — the lower portion — which will be subject to realignment work — and the stretch of Highway 137 to Kapoho Beach Road. It also includes the restoration of a water line to Kapoho Kai Drive.
Kurt Inaba, head of the Department of Water Supply’s Engineering Division, said the county is conducting a separate environmental assessment to explore connecting the water line to Kapoho Beach Road, should additional funds be available.
Lower Puna residents pleaded with officials at the meeting to consider building a temporary road through Pohoiki in the interim.
“Please, please consider a temporary road from Four Corners to at least Kapoho Beach Road, if not Kapoho Kai,” said Deb Smith during the meeting. “This is a shock to me, looking at a whole another year that I still cannot access my home.”
But Rodenhurst said building even a temporary road would require an environmental assessment process.
“And since we’re doing that anyway with this current process, if we’re going to be ready to do a road, it’s going to be the permanent road,” Rodenhurst said.
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.
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