The Kaua‘i County Council approved an additional $3.6 million yesterday to replace the nearly 100-year-old Kilauea Stream Bridge.
The bridge, targeted by the county for replacement due to deterioration, is one of two ways that residents access Kuhio Highway from Kaua‘i’s North Shore.
The county previously appropriated $9.3 million — $7.4 million from the Federal Highway Administration, managed by the state Department of Transportation, and $1.9 in county funds — for the job.
But the county needed the additional money to cover rising construction expenses, which are tied to the increased fuel costs to operate machinery, availability of materials, the larger size of the new bridge and increased risks for work over a stream, said Alex Pascual, assistant chief of the engineering division of Kaua‘i’s Public Works Department.
Kiewit Pacific, headquartered in Omaha, Neb., submitted the lowest bid at $12.8 million. The 11-month job will start after the county awards the contract.
Wailua resident Glenn Mickens objected to plans for a new concrete bridge, saying a steel-framed Acrow bridge could work as well and be installed for much less.
The county has to employ good planning principles, he said, “after the debacle with the Olohena Bridge (in Wailua), where we paid $4.8 million to build a bridge over a ditch.” He argues that the job could have used a culvert-type bridge or an Acrow bridge for a fraction of the amount spent.
Mickens said Acrow Bridges, with headquarters in New Jersey, builds structures that can be used on a temporary or permanent basis.
“They build modular type bridges that may be taken apart and moved if necessary, but they are prefabricated and put in place to be permanent,” he said.
Mickens said the Acrow company has three bridges on Kaua‘i — two in Wainiha.
County engineer Donald Fujimoto said that while “on a national level, the bridges are designed to minimum federal statutes,” the state standards are higher due to exposure of steel structures to salt air.
The state, he added, views only concrete bridges as permanent bridges.
Council Chairman Kaipo Asing characterized some of Mickens’ comments as untrue because the Wainiha Acrow bridges are only temporary.
Fujimoto added that the state has future plans to install concrete bridges in their place.
Mickens countered that the county administration has made false statements as to why the Acrow bridge can’t be installed over the Kilauea Stream.
“Their actions are causing the taxpayers to encumber a lot of unnecessary expenses,” he said.
County officials said that had they considered an Acrow bridge and construction delays occurred, the federal government could have taken back its $7.4 million.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura voiced concerns the county was “borrowing” the $3.5 million for the bridge from other projects such as the expansion of Black Pot Park at Hanalei Bay and the design of sidewalks at ‘Ele‘ele Park and Pouli Road in Waipouli.
The existing county bridge was designed in 1911 and was completed by contractor George E. Marshall in 1913.
The bridge has a posted five-ton limit, but the new bridge will be able to handle loads of up to 20 tons.
The existing one-lane bridge is 92 feet long and 21 feet wide. The new, two-lane bridge will measure 102 feet long and 35 feet wide.
During the upcoming bridge replacement work, traffic will be rerouted.