County assessing Kapaia bridge damage

LIHU‘E — A structural engineer was on Kaua‘i Wednesday to inspect Kapaia Swinging Bridge, a deteriorating historic footbridge near Lihu‘e that appeared to have partially collapsed following storms in March.

“After the recent storm, Public Works conducted an assessment of the damages to the Kapaia Swinging Bridge,” Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata said. “We provided the project consultant with an overview of the damages and requested that he do his own assessment so we can proceed with the necessary modifications to the design. We are currently awaiting a response from the consultant on this matter.”

The county has allotted $240,000 in capital improvement funds for the current fiscal year for the bridge’s restoration. The county’s FY 2013 CIP budget shows an appropriation balance of $131,403.

The project’s final cost is yet to be determined, although Honolulu consultant Kai Hawai‘i last year estimated it would cost county taxpayers about $4 million. Reconstruction comprised half the cost, and access to privately held land the other.

“We have not submitted a permit request to the Planning Department as the modifications to the bridge design have not yet been made,” Tabata said.

When the revisions are made and the design is completed, he said, then the Planning Department will submit the plans to the proper government agencies.

The footbridge, inaugurated in 1948, served plantation workers who lived in the area. The county built the bridge, but the land surrounding it belonged to Grove Farm. The company has sold most of the property to private landowners, but it still owns some land behind the bridge.

“At this point, it’s hard to say how long it will take to complete the Swinging Bridge project, but we are moving forward with it along with all of the other projects that come under our purview,” Tabata said.

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com.

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