Sea wall section crumbling in Kapa‘a

The northern end of a rock sea wall at Pono Kai Resort in Kapa‘a has crumbled, apparently undermined by heavy wave action.

The structure was apparently constructed before Hurricane ‘Iniki, to protect the shoreline fronting the condominium development. The timeshare resort is among the largest visitor accommodations located in East Kaua’i.

A paved path behind the sea wall was partly redirected following the hurricane. Most of the path running along the shoreline traces the route of narrow-gauge railroad tracks used by the Hawaiian Canneries pineapple processing plant once located where Pono Kai now stands.

At least one sinkhole measuring about five feet long has developed immediately mauka of the sea wall. Cracks in a grassy area immediately mauka of the wall also have materialized.

As a warning to beachgoers, emergency road cones were put on the shoreline immediately mauka of the sea wall.

As an additional safety precaution, emergency yellow tape was recently put up around the parts of the sea wall that have broken up.

On Tuesday, state and county workers cut down the bulk of a 35-foot-tall ironwood tree that appeared to be undermining the northern portion of the sea wall, according to a Pono Kai representative who asked not to be identified.

The tree roots apparently contributed to the degradation of parts of the wall, and had to be removed to preserve it, the resort spokesman said.

The tree also was cut down because it posed a danger to beachgoers, he said. “The tree was tilting at a 45-degree angle out to the beach where people were,” the resort spokesman said.

The man said he called the county administration in early October about the damaged sea wall, prompting action by county officials to stabilize it.

Alexander Kufel, a public information officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it was not known if anyone from Kaua‘i County had called the agency about the sea wall’s condition.

Wynne Ushigome, deputy director of the county Department of Public Works, was not immediately available for comment.

Kaua‘i County officials would not need permission from the agency for repairs if the structure did not fall into the ocean or is not located in a wetland, Kufel said.

Staff writer Lester Chang may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net.

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