Makaala Kaaumoana, chairwoman of Hui Ho’omalu i ka ‘aina, said there is another issue that could delay North Shore bridge work.
She said there’s an ongoing conversation between the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation because the Waioli Bridge falls under historic preservation.
She said a memorandum of understanding is required to move forward and must be signed by ACHP, DOT, and federal agencies. Community organizations Hui Ho’omalu i ke ‘aina and Hanalei Roads Committee were both invited to be consultants on the MOU and to sign it.
Sarah Stokely, with ACHP in Washington, D.C., hasn’t signed the MOU yet because “she’s concerned about the use of emergency funds being blended with other funding that had already been earmarked for the repairs of these bridges,” according to Makaala. “It hasn’t stopped the world that we (Hui Ho’omalu i ke ‘aina and Hanalei Roads Committee ) haven’t signed the MOU, but it has stopped the world that Sarah hasn’t signed it.”
“There is a process in place and they can’t start doing anything until the MOU is signed,” said Makaala. “What they have been doing is determining the exact condition of the bridges.”
As consultants on this MOU, the Kauai organizations have requested terms to the bridge repair. At Waioli Bridge, for example, the last agreement was that repairs would be made to the bridge, but the appearance of it wouldn’t change.
“At Waioli, the only thing you’d notice is a smoother road bed. Railings remain the same and the roadbed, but strengthened,” Makaala said. “That clock has not started and the MOU is not in play.”
Consultation with the community is ongoing, she said, and no agreement has been finalized. Nothing has been published, therefore when the DOT published its announcement there would be a groundbreaking ceremony at Waioli, some members of the community showed up to protest. They are not part of either organization formally that had been working on the MOU.
“One thing is a place appropriate traditional blessing for the project which could occur at Waioli or someplace nearby to which they agreed,” Makaala said.
“When I saw the press report that said we’ll do a groundbreaking, that’s not very traditional. I immediately said to Lary Dill “wait a minute that’s not in the MOU, I know we haven’t signed the MOU but you don’t get to bust it before we do it,” Makaala said. “He said you’re right.”
She said their objective is to retain the one-lane bridge and as much of the historical qualities as possible because it throttles the pace and scale of the North Shore.
“If we lose Waioli bridge all hell will break loose out of that,” she said. “Of course we want it safe and fixed if it needs to be fixed, the conversation is how to retain the historical qualities that help us retain the rural character of the community out there. That’s what’s motivating some potential protests, now they’ve experienced it out there without the tourists and it’s pretty sweet.”