(BIVN) – As the State of Hawaiʻi moves one step closer to approving a $60 million appropriation to the County of Hawaiʻi for Kīlauea disaster relief and recovery, local lawmakers are getting ready to spend it.
Recovering the lava-inundated Highway 132 in Puna is a top priority.
Bill 46, introduced by Hawaiʻi County Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, appropriates $50 million to the Capital Budget for Public Works Highway 132 Road Restoration. $40 million is coming from the Federal Highway Administration and $10 million from the County.
The bill went before the Hawaiʻi County Council on first reading Thursday, and several of the Kapoho kipuka residents testified from the Pāhoa teleconference site.
One resident, Smiley Burrows, pointed out that the latest change in the volcano alert level favors going forward with the highway recovery project.
“The alert level of Kilauea has gone from advisory to normal,” Burrows told the council, “and they’re predicting that we will not see any eruptions in the next 10 years, possibly much longer. So, that’s a really great aspect in support of recovery for our community who want to return home.”
In a recent recovery update, the County of Hawaiʻi stated that “both temporary and permanent routes are being evaluated, with guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and State regulatory agencies to ensure the County meets all necessary permitting and reimbursement requirements. The Department of Public Works (DPW) is working to complete temporary road construction before October 5, 2019 to qualify for 100% FHWA reimbursement.”
Nancy Seifers said that folks are “scared that this temporary road will become a permanent road, but all of us who lived in Puna for 40 years… those temporary roads are what we’re used to, so we’re all good with that.”
Seifers, who has been keeping an eye on the Kilauea disaster recovery bills moving at the state legislature, said “we’re here to follow the bills, support you, and follow the money to the very end of the road.”