Koke’e, Waimea access work gets under way

Construction work has gotten under way at the Koke’e State Park and at the Russian Fort in Waimea, to upgrade facilities and to expand access to the park and fort for physically-challenged folks, the chairman of the state Board of Land of Natural Resources (BLNR) announced.

Work started this week at some of the more popular visitor destinations in the Koke’e State Park, including construction of accessible parking and pathways at the Kalalau Lookout and the Koke’e Lodge and Museum.

Work also got underway at the fort this week, involving the installation of a septic-tank system to replace an existing cesspool, as a way to reduce the risk of waste finding its way to underground waterways and ending up in the ocean.

The work at both sites is part of ongoing efforts by Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration to upgrade state parks across Hawai’i, and to ensure the safe use of the facilities by residents and visitors, said Peter Young, BLNR and state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) chairperson, in a news release.

The improvements in Koke’e are intended to enrich the experience for the hundreds of thousands of folks, mostly visitors, who journey to the upcountry park complex each year.

State DLNR officials have described the Koke’e and Waimea State Park system as the flagship park of the DLNR Division of State Parks system, because of the lush jungle foliage and large forest reserves.

The construction work has been taking place at the Kalalau Lookout, the Pu’u O Kila Lookout, the park’s headquarters, the Koke’e Lodge and Museum, a picnic pavilion, a camping area, a cabin, and the old Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.

Most of the park will remain open during construction, although a camping area will be closed while work is being done at a comfort station, according to Young.

The work, which will be carried out by workers with Primatech Construction Inc. at a cost of $675,000, includes:

  • Placement of a picnic table at the Kalalau Lookout for use by physically-challenged folks;
  • Construction of handrails along an existing path from the parking area to the lookout;
  • Construction of an “accessible” registration counter and related improvements at the park’s headquarters;
  • Construction of parking stalls and pathways to a picnic table at the lodge and museum that would benefit physically-challenged folks;
  • Construction of a parking stall and pathway from the parking area to a picnic pavilion and installation of a picnic table and sink in an area for barbecuing foods that would benefit physically-challenged visitors to the park. Also planned by the picnic pavilion are restroom improvements and other improvements, officials said;
  • Construction of an accessible parking stall, comfort station and other improvements at a camp site;
  • Improvements to a Kukui cabin and at the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.

Camping permits will not be issued during the construction work at the campsite’s comfort station. Permits will be issued after the construction is competed.

The work in Koke’e State Park is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.

In addition, Young said Constructor Site Engineering Inc. has a $270,000 state contract to construct two, 2,000-gallon septic tanks and a leach field to replace an existing cesspool at Russian Fort Elizabeth in Waimea.

The project is part of ongoing renovations under way at the fort, to provide accessible parking stalls, ramps, walkways, a drinking fountain, toilets and signs, Young said.

Both projects at the fort are anticipated to be completed by May.

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