MOUNTAIN VIEW, Hawaii – A Public Meeting on a Draft Environmental Assessment for new roads in and around Fern Acres was held last week at the Mountain View Elementary School cafeteria.
It was a chance for residents of Puna mauka to discuss the project that would “assist in response to floods, fires, automobile accidents, or other emergencies that would block critical roads” the county said. The improved connectivity, identified through the hard work of the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee, would also provide area residents with permanent access alternatives to the South Kūlani Road outlet.
The sub-projects that are under study:
- The improvement and extension from Volcano Highway to Pūhala Road of South Lauko Road.
- The improvement and extension from Volcano Highway to Pūhala Road of South Pszyk Road.
- The extension of Pūhala Road south to South Kopua Road.
Ron Terry with the consulting firm Geometrician Associates LLC did most of the talking at the meeting. Also present was county civil defense administrator Ed Teixeira, and mayor-elect Harry Kim.
The County of Hawai‘i, Department of Public Works (DPW) is proposing to improve the connectivity of Puna subdivisions with Volcano Highway (State Highway 11), particularly in the area centered on Fern Acres. The purpose is to improve road accessibility during events such as floods, fires, automobile accidents, or other emergencies that block subdivision roads, connector roads, or Volcano Highway. There is also a need to provide permanent alternatives to the South Kulani Road outlet for residents of Fern Acres, upper Hawaiian Acres, and nearby subdivisions. The project addresses needs identified by the Connectivity and Emergency Response Subcommittee of the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee.
The three component sub-projects under study include 1) the improvement and extension from Volcano Highway to Puhala Road of South Lauko Road; 2), the improvement and extension from Volcano Highway to Puhala Road of South Pszyk Road; and 3) the extension of Puhala Road south to South Kopua Road. Depending on funding availability and other factors, the County may choose to construct one, two, all three, or none of the component projects under study, at various levels of road improvement ranging from compacted gravel to paved, with bridge or ford crossings at streams. The roads would be owned and maintained by the County of Hawai‘i.
Construction will minimally disrupt existing traffic. The project will increase road connectivity in the Mt. View area, and will be especially useful for emergency situations. Conversely, the project could increase traffic at existing intersections on Volcano Highway. This would be balanced by an equal decrease in traffic at other intersections and a more efficient circulation pattern, particularly for school traffic. Depending on the alternative combinations and design options that are constructed, construction could take place over intervals of several months to a year, separated by periods of little or no construction. Best Management Practices that will be required as part of permits will minimize erosion and sedimentation. No significant biological, archaeological or cultural resources would be adversely affected.