(BIVN) – It has been more than a year since Highway 132 was buried in lava. Now, Puna’s major thoroughfare will again be available to motorists after a $6.5 million restoration.
The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works announce on Tuesday that the reopening of Highway 132 will take place on Wednesday, November 27, at noon. According to a County media release:
Highway 132, a major thoroughfare in the lower Puna district, was inundated with lava during the 2018 eruption. A 1.6 mile stretch of the upper portion of the highway and a 1.5 mile section of the lower portion of the road were covered in lava, leaving a kipuka, an isolated area surrounded by lava, in the mid-section of the highway. A 1,100-foot section of Government Beach Road from Four Corners to the lava inundation was also restored.
Highway 132 has been restored to its pre-inundation function with two paved travel lanes and shoulders. Rough grading included the excavation of 109,000 cubic yards of lava rock. Additional work included fine grading the roadway and shoulders, paving with asphalt concrete base, as well as installing striping, markers, and signage.
Initial construction costs were estimated at $12 million. However, design was done in-house and construction managed and inspected by the DPW Engineering Division, reducing costs to approximately $6.5 million, which is the amount the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has obligated for reimbursement. Construction was done mostly via equipment rental contracts and regular contracts for paving, signing, and striping.
Highway restoration started June 10, 2019 with an initial completion deadline of October 5, 2019, in order to receive 100 percent federal reimbursement. However, after construction personnel encountered hot surface temperatures of more than 700 degrees in the lower portion of the road, DPW requested and received a three-month extension from FHWA. The County completed work well before the revised deadline of January 5, 2020.
Restoring the road will provide access for residents with properties in the kipuka to return to their homes and businesses; provide shorter commute to residents and businesses beyond the lava inundation on Old Government Beach Road; and facilitate emergency response in the area.