Over 100 oppose Wainiha bridges project

LIHUE — The final environmental assessment for a project to replace temporary bridges on Kauai’s North Shore has been completed and is available to the public.

The purpose of the assessment is to clarify to the public the intent of the Wainiha Bridges Project and to provide additional information regarding criteria, as well as an update on the bridge design.

During a public comment period, 123 people signed a petition to stop the project.

According to the assessment, the majority of the public comments fell into three categories including, the project description and mis-characterization of the project, that the design replicates the historic 1957 bridge that was destroyed by a tidal wave as much as possible and why aren’t two-lane structures proposed given to the ADT?

“In 2015, the proposed project was estimated to cost approximately $20 to $25 million,” said Thomas Parker, project manger and COE for the Federal Highway Administration. “Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018 or 2019 after the final design is completed and all necessary permits and approvals are secured.”

The bridges, unique to Hawaii, have been a fixture on Kuhio Highway for over 100 years, the assessment says, but have often suffered failures and emergency conditions that have needed to be repaired.

Once begun, the project is expected to take two years.

The primary purpose, the assessment says, is to replace the three temporary Wainiha bridges in order to maintain continued access along Kuhio Highway, but additional issues have been identified through evaluations.

“These issues include the improvement of operations, management and maintenance requirements and to balance the project’s improvements with the character of the historic roadway corridor,” the assessment says.

In regards to the project, the assessment says a context-sensitive-solution approach has been employed to identify a range of alternatives in addressing bridge design considerations, including materials, width and aesthetic considerations in comparison to the project purpose.

Funding for the project Parker said, is through the Federal-Aid Program Funds administered by the FHWA Hawaii Division and Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“Federal Highway Funds are authorized by Congress to assist the states in providing for construction, reconstruction, and improvement of highways and bridges on eligible Federal-aid highway routes and for other special purpose programs and projects,” Parker said.

To view the assessment, visit flh.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/hi/wainiha/docs.htm.

  1. Uncleaina February 16, 2018 6:19 am Reply

    Sure seems like the people who make these decisions have a GED or something. Here’s $25 million to fix a bridge that less than 5% of local residents use…only used by tourists and the 40 people who live past these bridges. On the other hand Kuhio Highway in the kapaa Wailua corridor is a broken down giant mess of dangerous potholes and is used by about 40% of the residents. It’s also just 3 lanes so lots of people die or get injured because of contraflow. Had that missile alert been real, the toll on human lives would have been tremendous because thousands of us were trapped in our cars because of the three lane road. This stretch of Highway might be the worst planned state Highway in the USA.

  2. Barbara Robeson February 16, 2018 8:54 am Reply

    The title of this article implies that replacing the three temporary Acrow Wainiha Bridges was opposed. This is NOT correct! The “opposition” was for widening the bridges from their historic 11 feet to 14 feet as stated in the below 2016 Petition which is included in the FEA:

    “As residents of Hanalei we are interested in preserving and protecting our home. We live in Hanalei because of this country lifestyle and a way of life that is rapidly disappearing in other parts of Hawai’i. Kaua‘i is being squeezed by pressures to develop our area by the tourism industry and other developers. We feel it is our duty to protect the Hanalei lifestyle for future generations.

    The Hawai’i Department of Transportation has decided to replace the three bridges in Wainiha. Currently these three bridges are 11 feet wide. The HDOT proposes to increase the width of these three bridges to 14 feet wide. This is unacceptable for the following reasons: If we allow HDOT to make the 3 Wainiha bridges 14 feet wide it will allow tour buses to access our beaches and parks in Haena and Kee. This will forever change the peaceful tranquility and county feel of this area. It will allow massive development in Kēʻē. It will change the area from rural use to a tourist Mecca. We are strongly opposed to widening the 3 bridges. We want them kept as is. If the bridges need to be upgraded for safety, we ask that the community’s wishes be obeyed, and the historical nature of the 3 bridges remain. The community wants 11 foot wide bridges.”

    In 2003 our Hanalei Roads Committee had Route 560, Princeville to Kee, placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The one-lane Wainiha Bridges are 3 of the 13 historic bridges and culverts along Route 560 which begins in Princeville to the end of the road at Kee. Hanalei Bridge is the first one-lane bridge on the historic Kaua‘i Belt Road.

    Barbara Robeson

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