KAPA‘A — Representative Jimmy Tokioka, D-15th District, and Joseph Borden, Kaua‘i manager of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ boating division, spoke with local fishermen at Kapa‘a’s Waikaea Harbor yesterday afternoon to quell concerns over the progress of the state’s massive canal dredging project.
Rumors had spread that the $1.8 million in funding allocated for the project was running low.
“Someone had told them (the fishermen) that the dredging would stop at the bridge,” Borden said. “We explained that it was going to go past that. They wanted to hear that from me and Jimmy in person.”
“They (the fisherman) are just watching the work and they’re excited to use the harbor again,” said Tokioka. “Because of the high cost of fuel now, they really don’t like having to drive down to (Nawiliwili Harbor in) Lihu‘e.”
Borden explained that the work commenced at the beginning of May, was originally slated to last roughly 90 days, but would need to be extended to complete work on the inland section of the harbor.
Tokioka, who said that he grew up a few hundred yards from Waikaea Harbor, could not remember the last time it had been dredged.
When completed, the deeper canal will allow the passage of full, heavy fishing vessels on their way into shore as well as the lighter ones on their way out.
In the interim, the harbor is closed from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Outside of those times, it is open to the public.
Tokioka said that those in charge of the project had told him that 5,000 cubic yards of wet sand had been removed from the canal bed to date. Some 9,000 cubic yards will be removed when all is said and done.
The sand currently sits in numerous piles higher than 10 feet in the adjacent state-owned parking area. Pursuant to an agreement with Kaua‘i officials, the county will move it to nearby Kapa‘a beaches, where it is thought to have originated, after it bleaches in the sun.
Also at issue is the bike path’s interference with fishing operations.
Compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act necessitated a ramp from the parking lot to the path. Car parking near the ramp, further crowded by the piled sand, could complicate efforts to get boats in and out of the water.
Borden said that while locals know to stay clear, the flow of tourists to the area might require signage discouraging parking too near to the boat ramp.
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or firstname.lastname@example.org