(BIVN) – The long-awaited Final Environmental Assessment for the Pohoiki Road and Highway 137 Road Repair and Water Line Installation has been completed and published by FEMA.
The project will realign and reconstruct approximately 9.1 miles of County roads that were covered by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano on the lower East Rift Zone. The project also proposes to install water lines along approximately 7.8 miles of the same County roads.
The project will realign and reconstruct 4.4 miles of Pohoiki Road and 3.4 miles of Highway 137, as well as install water line along those same roads. The project also plans to reconstruct portions of Leilani Avenue, Kapoho Beach Road, Moani Street, Pua O Kapoho Street, Kapoho Kai Drive, and Kumukahi-Lighthouse Road. The County notes that the Lighthouse Road portion will be the final phase of the project “to allow the community to collaboratively develop a formal protection plan for the culturally significant and sensitive areas at Kumukahi.”
From the County of Hawaiʻi:
The Final EA discloses the federal decision-making process, agency coordination, and public participation in determining whether to revise the EA, withdraw the EA, prepare this Finding of No Significant Impact, or initiate an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Public comments received on the Draft EA are published and responded to in the Final EA.
FEMA has determined a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in the Final EA, meaning once we receive the Notice to Proceed from FEMA, the project can begin. This brings us one step closer to construction beginning on this project.
The Final EA contains only one major change from the previous draft. During the public comment period, FEMA received a substantial number of comments requesting a reordering of the project phases. Specifically, there were numerous requests to postpone the Lighthouse Road portion of the project, placing it in the final phase. This proposed adjustment aims to allow the community to collaboratively develop a formal protection plan for the culturally significant and sensitive areas at Kumukahi.
In response to the valuable input we received during the EA comment period and multiple meetings with local residents, we have made the decision to resequence the project phases, with the Lighthouse Road portion now positioned as the final phase. This strategic adjustment provides the community with the necessary time and space to collaboratively develop a comprehensive protection plan for this sacred area as access is restored after the completion of Lighthouse Road.
We understand the eagerness within the community to witness the tangible results of the extensive collaborative efforts by the County and FEMA over the past two years. As we look ahead, the next phases of the project will involve the finalization of engineering designs, a crucial step that could only proceed once the Final EA was released. Following this, we will move forward with the procurement process, setting the stage for the commencement of construction, which is expected to kick off in early 2024.