WAILUA HOMESTEADS — Public outcry over the construction of a $2.7 million, 20-ton bridge Keahua Stream on Kuamoo Road, in an area known as “loop road,” has sparked another public meeting on Kauai about the project.
The meeting will be held Feb. 25 at the Kapaa Public Library from 2 to 4 p.m.
Sheri Mann, district manager for the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, along with other staff members, will be there to answer questions.
Verbal complaints and a petition with more than 400 signatures opposing the project have reached DLNR, Mann said.
“Most are related not so much to the construction of the bridge, but from concern that the bridge will draw more tourists, or ‘outsiders’ to come to the area and deeper into the Forest Reserve,” she said.
Many residents also consider that area sacred, and are worried it will be changed by the increased traffic.
“I think they should’ve left it the way it is,” said Tanya Bordenkircher of Kapahi. “It is a landmark that many families on Kauai have grown up with and now it will be gone,” she said of the stretch of the old road which required motorists to cross a stream.
The single-span, steel truss, 115-foot-long vehicle bridge with an adjacent pedestrian path project is expected to be finished in May. Construction is moving along smoothly, according to Mann. The bridge’s structure is now up. The cement on-ramps are underway, as is the new parking lot.
“Parking is impacted right now due to staging of equipment and materials, and parking lot construction, (but) the river can still be crossed via the existing cement ford,” Mann said.
Dylan Hooser of Wailua Homesteads took a drive out to Loop Road recently and said he was shocked at the progress of the bridge. He snapped a photo and put it on Facebook; it received more than 130 comments.
“I am not sure what can be done, but from reading the comments on my post, the community isn’t happy,” Hooser said. “Growth and change are inevitable, but we need to balance that with protecting our sacred areas.”
While the original plan was to continue building bridges spanning the three crossings the road makes through Keahua Stream, Mann said there are currently no plans to construct more bridges over the other fords or further repair the road.