Bridges over streams and canals in Kapa’a and Kealia, some of them historic structures that used to be used by trains hauling sugar cane, are coming down.
At least one of the cement structures, over Mo’ikeha Canal just off Kuhio Highway near the Kapa’a Public Library, is popular with fishermen seeking mullet, ‘oama and other creatures, and is lined with anglers when the ‘oama are running.
The demolition of the bridges over the Kapa’a Stream (near the highway intersection with Mailihuna Road), Waika’ea Canal (between the county Lihi Park and Pono Kai Resort) and Mo’ikeha Canal are all part of the bike and pedestrian path project, said Mary Daubert, county public information officer.
The work is part of a $12-million contract to Jas. W. Glover leaders to design and build a 4.3-mile bicycle/pathway from the county-owned Lihi Park by the Pono Kai Resort in Kapa’a to ‘Ahihi Point, more commonly known as “Donkey Beach.”
The 4.3-mile segment is part of a 16-plus-mile coastal, pedestrian and bicycle pathway to run from Nawiliwili to Anahola.
The project has been advanced by Mayor Bryan Baptiste, who views the entire project as a way to protect public access for future generations of Kaua’i.
More public access has eroded with the purchase of more lands by new landowners, who cite liability and trespassing as primary reasons for closing off their properties.
Related to the latest phase of the bicycle-and-pedestrian path, work on the Kapa’a Stream bridge was completed last month, work on the Waika’ea Canal bridge is going on now, and work on the Mo’ikeha Canal bridge is scheduled to start Jan. 30, Daubert said.
Pile driving is the next phase, she explained.
Concurrently, highway widening and the building of comfort stations and rest pavilions along the path will be worked on.
The actual bike and pedestrian path is slated for construction at the end of summer.
“If everything goes smoothly, the entire phase, Kapa’a to Kealia, will be completed at the end of this year,” Daubert said.
The project also involves the building of picnic tables, barbecue pits and rest stops.
The first phase of the 16-plus-mile project, a 2.5-mile trail through Lydgate Park, has been completed, and was supported by members of Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, led by Thomas Noyes.
The other three phases include a two-mile portion from Lydgate Park to Lihi Park; a three-mile leg from Kuna Bay near Kealia Beach to Anahola; and a three-mile portion from Ahukini to Nawiliwili Harbor. The total cost of the 16-mile pathway is anticipated in the range of $30 million, primarily from federal dollars.
Kaua’i County capital-improvement funds will be used when needed, officials said.
Donations of lands by landowners along the coastal pathway also can trigger the use of more federal funds for the project.
The project work has been overseen by Doug Haigh of the Kaua’i County Department of Public Works.
The project has come up against some opposition from Wailua Homesteads resident Glenn Mickens, who says the money for the project should be used to resolve critical issues facing Kaua’i, including longstanding traffic congestion throughout the island.
Haigh has pointed out that the federal funds can only be used for the coastal pedestrian-bicyclist path.
Mickens also has said that the project will benefit only a few people, when it should benefit many people.
To his concerns, county officials have said solving traffic congestion and building the project are two different issues, and that the project, when all of it is completed, will greatly enhance recreational needs of residents in East Kaua’i, and help provide public access in the face of more resort development on the island.