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.