Video by David Corrigan
A little over three years after the project to replace the old Kealakaha Stream Bridge began, officials met on a new bridge in Ookala to dedicate the improved structure.
The old Kealakaha bridge was constructed in 1935, and was notorious for its sharp road curvature. According to the Hawaii State Department of Transportation, the new bridge will improve traffic capacity, highway safety and seismic stability to meet current standards.
The new bridge spans over 650 feet, suspended some 200 feet over the valley below. The new bridge “will help ensure that this vital corridor between Hilo and Waimea will remain open in the event of future earthquakes,” said DOT director, Brennon Morioka. Over 6,900 cars are estimated to use the bridge daily.
Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc. started work on the new bridge as the general contractor in February 2007. On Tuesday, Mayor Billy Kenoi joined Morioka, councilmember Donald Ikeda, Representative Mark Nakashima, and project manager Gary Iwamoto in helping Kumu Kimo Awai to dedicate and bless the new birdge.
The old bridge, which still stands, is now closed to vehicular traffic.