(BIVN) – An Environmental Assessment for the Kīlauea Eruption Recovery Pohoiki Roads project, originally planned to be completed in January, will take another 6 weeks to finalize. (CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported a delay of 6 months. It should have read “6 weeks”.)
“We understand that this delay may cause frustration for residents and changes the timeline we released last year,” the County of Hawaiʻi stated in a March 29th update. “However, we want to assure the community that we are actively working to address the issues and remain committed to completing this project as soon as possible.”
The Hawaiʻi County Department of Public Works, Department of Water Supply, and Kīlauea Eruption Recovery team are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to complete the assessment, in an attempt to finish road and waterline restoration work following the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano on the lower East Rift Zone.
One year ago, the County reported that FEMA – in January 2022 – began the Environmental Assessment for road and waterline restoration along Pohoiki Road and Highway 137. At the time, it was anticipated that the assessment would be completed in January 2023.
In its most recent update, officials said:
As of late March 2023, the legal team of FEMA has completed their review and final revisions are being made to the EA document. The objective of this FEMA review was to ensure that the draft EA is in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
FEMA is currently taking steps to conclude the process and finalize the draft Environmental Assessment for public review and comment.
While this review is a normal part of the process, delays have arisen that were outside of our control.
Over the next 6 weeks, the County will be working closely with FEMA to finalize the EA. Once draft EA is completed, it will be released by FEMA which will then lead to a 30-day comment period likely occurring in May. During this comment period, DPW will also hold a community meeting to discuss the findings of the EA and show the process for the public to submit comments. As soon as we determine the exact dates for the comment period and community meeting, we will release that information to the public for participation.
“We appreciate the understanding and patience of our community, and we will keep you updated on the release of the EA and any changes to the project timeline as soon as possible,” the County wrote.