Bolstering the bridge

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A “Notice to Remove Objects” is posted on one of the Wailua River bridge pillars under Kuhio Higway.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Contractors for the state Department of Transportation work to help remedy erosion that’s undermining footings of old Wailua River bridge on Kuhio Highway.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Contractors for the state Department of Transportation work to help remedy ongoing erosion affecting the footings of the older Wailua River bridge.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Contractors for the state Department of Transportation work to help remedy the erosion that’s undermining the footings of the old Wailua River bridge. In the foreground is the newer Kuhio Highway bridge northbound lanes, named for the late Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste.

WAILUA — For weeks, Hawaii Department of Transportation workers in their yellow coats have been floating their barge through yellow barriers around the base of the bridge over Wailua River.

And under the Bryan J. Baptiste Memorial Bridge, commonly known as Wailua River Bridge, signs are posted to some of the pilings with black duct tape. It warns removal of a pile of shopping carts and dingy mattresses, pieces of clothing and discarded beverage containers.

It’s all part of the plan to fortify the Wailua River Bridge.

“This mitigation project will reduce the chance of the bridge piers being scoured by water in future events,” said Shelly Kunishige, HDOT spokeswoman. “(The signs) were posted by HDOT staff to facilitate the removal of unauthorized property at the site, which in addition to being unsightly pose health and safety concerns.”

Scouring refers to erosion around bridge foundations, which happens when the Wailua River swells and rushes into the ocean after heavy rains. Large pieces of trees and other debris are often caught between the pier footings and expedite the scouring.

So, HDOT workers are placing large grout bags at the footings of piers 2 and 3. The yellow floating objects around the piers are barriers to help contain debris during the construction.

The majority of the work is anticipated to be complete by mid-February. Motorists may experience some delays as crews access the work site and breakdown the staging area, said Kunishige.

Estimated cost for the project is between $1 million and $5 million, according to HDOT, but no specifics were available on whether the project is on budget.

The contractor for the work is Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc., which is using a local workforce for the project. Specialty work, including some underwater work, is being done by off-island subcontractors

Removal of the blankets, bottles and other household items under the bridge could take a little while longer than the bridge project itself.

State law says HDOT can remove anything that’s stored on a highway right of way without the entity’s permission — that includes the “placement or storage of structures, vehicles, equipment or other objects.”

The only caveat is that the property has to be in the area and unattended without authorization for at least 24 consecutive hours. After that, they can clean up the area at the department’s discretion. The law doesn’t give a deadline or timeframe within which the property must be removed.

HDOT’s procedure is to provide at least 24 hours’ notice prior to enforcement of that law.

“We do not currently have removal of the items scheduled but will work it into our highways maintenance as resources allow,” Kunishige said.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or

  1. I saw a Vampire once February 7, 2019 9:00 am Reply

    Lucky. There is work for some few lucky workers. As you may know jobs are scarce. So you cannot just get paid for nothing. Picking up several hundred or thousand dollars in the next month will be good for those workers. It is always good to find something to do, so that some people might have a job. One point I’d like to point out here.

  2. Millions February 7, 2019 9:39 am Reply

    Millions to remove trash??? Racket!!!

    Another plantation mentality local hook up under the table deal to pay back campaign support.

    It hasn’t gone on since the beginning but Kauai has seen it at an outrageous scam through the Carvalho years.

    These money hungry greedy bastards should suffer the consequences of their actions and those who pay them off should be in the front page of TGI and Honolulu Advertiser.

    Checks and Balances

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