video courtesy Hawaii County, edited by Big Island Video News
HILO – On August 18, the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Works and Parks and Recreation finalized a plan to create an ad hoc committee relating to road connectivity in Puna.
REQUESTS DISCUSSION REGARDING THE CREATION OF AN AD HOC COMMITTEE RELATING TO ROAD CONNECTIVITY IN PUNA
From Council Member Greggor Ilagan, dated July 6, 2015. The proposed ad hoc committee will study prioritized connections and work towards implementing the connections.
“This committee will discuss data collected from the Connectivity and Emergency Response CER) Subcommittee from the Puna Regional Emergency Preparedness Fairs, and also data collected from meetings with Puna community groups. The ad hoc committee on Puna connectivity will study the prioritized connectivity locations for viability and work to implement the connections.
This committee should consist ofthe Council Members from Districts 3, 4, 5, and 6, plus the chair of the Puna Community Development Plan ( CDP) Action Committee and the chair of the CER Subcommittee.
The committee is anticipated to meet regularly with stakeholders, including but not limited to the Department of Public Works, the Department of Finance, the various subdivisionassociations, and members of the public.” – Greggor Ilagan in Comm. 363
- Aug. 30, 2015 – Puna Maps Escape Routes at PREP Fair in Kea’au
by the Puna CDP Connectivity and Emergency Response Subcommittee (MAY 2015)
The Connectivity and Emergency Response Subcommittee began working in January of 2013 to gather data on possible road connectivity locations that would improve public safety, allow for emergency access and increase community connections throughout the Puna Districts. We worked over the next two years to collect community input. To this end, working with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency we created the first and second Puna Regional Emergency Preparedness Fairs ( PREP Fairs). At these Fairs we gathered community input from thousands of Puna Residents establishing where connectivity points were needed, viability, community support /opposition, alternatives, etc. This data was assembled into a report that was submitted to the PCDP and adopted on May 13, 2014. Since this report, Tropical Storm Iselle and the June 27, 2014 lava flow have also created multiple emergency response and evacuation, as well as everyday challenges to movement throughout the Puna District.
Considering input since the last report and acts of nature, our number one priority for implementation is to create an alternate route in Upper Puna from Volcano to Highway 130. With population increasing at the highest rates in the State along the Upper Puna Highway 11 corridor, we see it as crucial that we address the reality that there is no way to travel parallel to Highway 11 without running into existing obstructions in that there are no connections between the subdivisions. The decision to connect these subdivisions is documented in the Puna Community Development Plan, 2008, with the intention of the County of Hawaii receiving community input to determine specifically where and how to connect them. With the Volcanoes National Park being the second most visited site in the State with approximately 3. 4 million visitors last year, this additional traffic load challenges both residents and visitors that need to use Highway 11. An alternate, parallel, inter – subdivision corridor will relieve the daily use of this 2 -lane highway that services so many.
The Upper Puna connectivity priorities are grouped as one as we see it as essential that an entire through route be completed as well as two additional roads to connect our parallel route with Highway 11.
Puna Uka Priorities
- Kaleponi to Punahele (Fern Forest — Eden Roc)
- Punahele to Apele (Eden Roc — Kopua Farm Lots)
- Waimako O Pele to Orchid (Kopua Farm Lots — Fern Acres)
- Orchid to Uhiniana (Fern Acres — Hawaiian Acres)
- Pulelehua to Pohaku (Hawaiian Acres — Orchidland)
- Alula to 40th ( Hawaiian Acres — Orchidland)
- Complete South Lauko Road into Fern Acres
- Complete South Oshiro Road into Eden Roc Estates
- Recommendation County improve intersection of 40th and Orchidland)
These Connectivity Locations are recommendations. If one is found not to be viable, another alternative connection will be suggested.
Puna Waena Priorities
The lava activity has provided the impetus for the State and County to open connecting roads between Nanawale, Hawaiian Beaches and Shores and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Additionally, the Chain of Craters road has been readied for emergency use. The Subcommittee recommends that the Railroad emergency road be open on a 24/ 7 basis. We recognize that this puts a strain on the Hawaiian Paradise Park roadways and recommend that the County negotiate with HPPOA to come to an agreement on financial assistance for road maintenance or to assume ownership of a roadway that is used by the general public as an alternate to Highway 130. We also recommend that a study be initiated to open a connection between Hawaiian Paradise Park and the Kea’ au Bypass junction area.
- Permanently open Railroad between Hawaiian Beaches /Shores and Hawaiian Paradise Park
- Initiate a viability study to create a road between HPP ( Railroad) and Milo Road
Puna Kai Priorities
In tandem with our recommendation that Railroad between Hawaiian Beaches / Shores and Hawaiian Paradise Park we recommend that the new emergency access route connecting Nanawale Estates to Hawaiian Beaches / Shores be open on a 24/ 7 basis. We recognize that few people who are not residents of these subdivisions will choose to use this route as an alternate for Highway 130, that it would be used primarily by local residents to travel between the subdivisions and also to provide emergencyingress / egress.
We also recommend that an alternate route into and out of Nanawale Estates be created to Highway 130 on the Forest Road right of way.
When the lava covered Apa’ a Road at the Cemetery in Pahoa it blocked the main access for residents of Kaohe Homesteads. We understand that the County intends to re -open this road and recommend that this project be implemented as soon as possible as the Kaohe residents are left with only one ingress /egress route and that one is circuitous.
- Permanently open Railroad between Hawaiian Beaches /Shores and Nanawale Estates
- Connect Nanawale Estates to Highway 130 on Forest
- Re -open Apa’ a Road where it is covered with lava
The Puna Community Development Plan Subcommittee on Connectivity and Emergency Response ( CERS) remains dedicated to continuing our work to implement these points of connectivity that are so urgently needed in Puna. Both the public and emergency service providers need to have better access, safer routes to schools, social and community connectivity and alternate routes in and out of subdivisions. These projects must not be deferred. We need to create partnerships with the County and the Puna communities to bring these connections into reality