Old bridges coming down to make way for the new

A 115-year-old bridge over the Kealia River once used by Lihue Plantation Company employees for hauling sugar cane with both railroad cars and trucks, has been knocked down to make way for the next phase of the proposed, 16-plus-mile bicycle and pedestrian coastal pathway from Ahukini to Anahola.

Crews with Pacific Concrete and Coring, a Kaua’ibased company, began demolition of the old bridge spanning the Kealia River on Nov. 21, and completed the work Dec. 9, according to company project manager Marc Nishida.

In the place of the old bridge will be built another bridge of the same size. The placement of pilings is anticipated to start in early February, and work on the new bridge is anticipated to be completed by the summer of 2006, Nishida said.

The old bridge had been used by locomotives to haul sugar from canefields in East Kaua’i to the Lihue Plantation mill in the first half of the 1900s.

The latest project will cost $1.2 million, and is part of a $12-million, federally-funded contract awarded to leaders with Jas W. Glover Ltd. to design and build a 4.3-mile segment of the path from Lihi Park by the Pono Kai Resort in Kapa’a northward to Ahiki Point, more commonly known as Donkey Beach.

The 16-plus-mile project is anticipated to greatly enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and protect public access to coastline areas, a major objective

Jerome “The Shadow” Freitas Sr. / Contributed photo

Kayakers at left use a landing area along the Kealia River to fish from. The 115-year-old, former cane-haul bridge next to them is no longer there.

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