Here’s a brief history of the Kalihiwai bridges

In 1902, the Executive Council of the Territory of Hawaii recommended that a bridge of cylinder piers, 160 feet in length, be built at Kalihiwai gulch to replace the ferry that had been in use for a very long time as the sole means of conveying passengers and goods across the Kalihiwai River.

Subsequently, in 1904, the first Kalihiwai Bridge, a 100-foot long structure of steel truss design, was constructed over the Kalihiwai River just above its mouth by the firm of Whitehouse &Hawkshurst at a cost of $6,700.

Then in 1927, contractor S. Honjiyo removed this steel truss bridge and replaced it with a stronger concrete bridge costing $35,000, which was destroyed by the force of a tsunami on Saturday, March 9, 1957.

A week later, on March 16, 1957, Army engineers of the 25thDivision stationed at Schofield Barracks, Oahu replaced the wrecked concrete bridge with a 170 foot long Bailey bridge that they’d disassembled at Schofield’s east range, loaded onto a Navy LST, shipped to Kauai, unloaded and reassembled at Kalihiwai.

In 1963, the present Kalihiwai Bridge, a girder bridge located upstream of the aforementioned Kalihiwai bridges, was built by Territorial Contractors for over two million dollars and was opened for traffic.

Actually comprised of two bridges – with the major span being 798 feet in length and the smaller span, called Bridge No. 4, about 50 feet long — it has a maximum height of 75 feet above the Kalihiwai River, is 36-feet wide, and its length, including approaches, is 1.8 miles.

Meanwhile, the Bailey bridge at Kalihiwai remained in place until late October 1967, when it was disassembled, transported in 10-foot sections to the Lumahai River, and reassembled there by Marine Corps engineers from Kaneohe, Oahu to serve as a temporary replacement for the 50-year-old Lumahai Bridge that had collapsed on October 24, 1967.

The current Lumahai Bridge, a “tidal-wave proof” bridge, replaced the Bailey bridge in 1968.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: and here Hank can be reached at


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