(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County crews got to work on Monday morning, pushing a path over lava that covered Highway 132 during the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano.
A small group of Puna residents gathered to bless the Hawaiʻi County Department of Public Works project and watch machines begin carving the high lava wall that covered the road last summer.
According to the County, “the near-term goal is to reestablish access over a temporary road to homes and farms in the kipuka (land isolated by recent lava flows) along Highway 132, including connections to Government Beach Road and Lighthouse Road at Four Corners,” according to the latest update on the Kīlauea recovery page.
Isemoto Contracting Co. and Ludwig Construction Inc. are on the job, which will reportedly cost about $11.9 million.
“I’m really happy to see some local men on these machines that are actually families of this lower Puna area,” said Kapoho-resident Smiley Burrows. “These guys are from here, that are doing this work. They are awesome. I know they’re gonna do a great job. It’s amazing.”
“It’s really going to truly recover our community and bring things to some sense of normalcy again, as far as connectivity,” Burrows said. “Getting these roads open is really the the first step to recovery.”
Permitting requirements for temporary road construction were completed, the County says, “including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Categorial Exclusion (CatEx) permit, Special Management Area (SMA) permit, and a grading permit which will be reviewed by DPW and State Historic Preservation Division.”
The County plans to complete the temporary road by October 2019. Doing so will qualify the County for a 100% percent reimbursement of the cost from the federal government.