Seawall in for a overhaul

KAPAA — Pono Kai Resort general manager Peter Sit says he has watched the sea behind his Kapaa resort gradually erode a stone wall protecting the shoreline from erosion while county officials worked out plans to have it repaired.

Nearly eight years later, he is still waiting.

“It’s a dangerous situation when you have a seawall that has deteriorated,” Sit said. “Our concern, as well as the county’s one, is the erosion that is occurring, and it has become worse over the last two years, so that’s why we’ve worked together with the county to have it scheduled for repairs.”

That wait may end soon as county officials move forward with a nearly million-dollar plan to repair the disjointed seawall, which is now cordoned off with yellow tape at one section where the sea breached the wall and eroded a wide section of the shoreline near the county’s paved Ke Ala Hele Makalae multi-use path.

“We certainly appreciate all of the efforts,” Sit said. “Timing wise, it’s great that we finally got this commitment from the county to fund the project repairs. We look forward to its completion because the safety of the people of Kauai, as well as the guests of the Pono Kai, is high on our list.”

Though there are no firm estimates on when the seawall was constructed, efforts to repair it date back to at least 2007 when Oceanit, a Honolulu-based engineering consultant firm, advised the Kauai County Council to authorize repair work that would prevent the entire 600-foot wall from collapsing.

Getting the project off the ground was no easy task. 

“A project of this nature requires approvals from a number of government agencies,” County Engineer Larry Dill wrote in an email. “Environmental clearances alone took over four years.” 

A taped-off sinkhole area behind the Pono Kai Resort, where a portion of the seawall once stood, is no longer restricted but is being monitored for hazardous conditions, Dill said.

Goodfellow Bros., Inc., a Kihei, Maui-based general contracting company with an office in Lihue, was awarded a $948,400 contract for all materials, labor, transportation, tools, equipment, machinery and services to install and complete the repairs on the Pono Kai seawall. 

Construction on the project is slated to begin in early September and finish by the end of this year. 

Public lateral access to the beach areas will be maintained while repair work is done, including access to Ke Ala Hele Makalae. Beach access points from the Pono Kai Resort, Sit said, will also be retained during the nearly two-month construction period. 

“People make the interpretation, especially our visitors, that it’s Pono Kai’s beach, but we want to make sure they understand this is a county beach and a public beach — nobody owns the beaches on the island,” Sit said.  

County officials are also working on obtaining a permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for a beach maintenance program to address erosion at the ends of the Pono Kai seawall.

Future plans are also in place to repair the nearby Moana Kai seawall. County officials are finalizing the bid documents to procure services for the project.

The Kauai County Council in January approved a $1.6 million appropriation to repair the Pono Kai and Moana Kai seawalls.


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