Swinging bridges get another funding boost

The Kaua‘i County Council Public Works Committee Wednesday gave new life to two old swinging bridges that have served generations of residents in Kapaia and Hanama‘ulu, and Kapa‘a.

Meeting at the historic County Building, the committee approved $200,000 to repair the old Kapaia Swinging Bridge and another $35,000 to check the structure of the Keapana Swinging Bridge in Kapa‘a and to prepare an operation and maintenance manual to keep other swinging bridges in top form.

Those other bridges include Hanapepe and Waimea swinging bridges, both visitor attractions. Their conditions are not in question, the county said.

During a meeting of the council committee at the historic County Building Wednesday, councilmember Mel Rapozo thanked the county administration, including Public Works official Ryan Nishikawa, for its efforts in preparing a report and recommendations for corrective actions.

The full council will vote on the funding requests on a day that has not been specified.

The funds for work on the Kapaia and Keapana bridges will preserve structures which have high sentimental and historic importance to plantation-era residents and their descendants.

The Kapaia bridge, for one, enabled generations of plantation workers to get around their communities and to socialize.

The county closed that bridge last September after it had fallen into disrepair from age and weather and posed a safety hazard.

A group that included descendants of plantation workers urged the council to make the bridge a functioning landmark for a new generation of Hanama‘ulu residents.

The council received a petition signed by 300 persons urging government to preserve the bridge.

Most of the Kapaia bridge would be replaced except for its concrete foundation and support cables, which are in good condition, said county officials.

The work would be carried out by a contractor, who has yet to be selected.

For the Keapana bridge, a consultant, who would be hired through a bid process, would check the stability of the bridge and would draw up the operation and maintenance manual.

The bridge currently has one-inch thick planking, while the consultant will be hired to determine whether the bridge’s frame is strong enough to support heavier two-inch planking.

The Kapaia bridge also has one-inch thick planking, while the two other swinging bridges have two-inch thick planking.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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