HANAPEPE — If the weather cooperates, the historic 1911 Hanapepe bridge on Hanapepe Road over the Hanapepe River should re-open to vehicular traffic by the end of the month, said county Department of Water Engineer Dustin Moises Wednesday during a talk story session hosted by the Hanapepe Economic Alliance to a standing-room-only audience at the Hanapepe Recreation Center.
Work on the four bridges in the ‘Ele‘ele and Hanapepe areas, including the recently storm-damaged Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, the historic 1911 Hanapepe bridge, the main Hanapepe bridge on Kaumuali‘i Highway, and the pedestrian walkway in ‘Ele‘ele, was one of the agenda items at the meeting attended by Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami with support from his department heads.
The meeting also included the announcement of Nalani Brun assuming the title of interim director of the county’s Office of Economic Development.
Moises’ announcement of the anticipated opening of the historic 1911 bridge to vehicular traffic was one of the bright notes in the meeting that was mired in talk of the numerous issues that surround the ‘Ele‘ele and Hanapepe areas.
Bridge work on the historic 1911 structure has been done jointly between the county and DOW as part of the water department’s new water system in ‘Ele‘ele, and has progressed to where vehicular traffic can once again be accommodated. Currently, the traffic on the bridge is limited to pedestrians and bicycles only.
Moises said once the bridge is opened to vehicles, there will be intermittent closures on the east end of the bridge for pipeline work.
Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata said the historic structure will need repairs to some of the bridge footings as well as reconstruction on the the deck to meet the standards of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Hanapepe Swinging Bridge
Tabata said the tree in the river that is believed to have created damage to the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge has been removed by Hanapepe residents.
However, the county did not have access to the equipment necessary to safely conduct a damage assessment. This equipment has now been made available, and the county can proceed with its damage assessment that includes examination of the undercarriage of the structure.
Main Hanapepe bridge on Kaumuali‘i Highway
Work being done on the main Hanapepe bridge is under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Transportation, and has suffered from a number of delays, including relocation of utility lines and unplanned-for geological challenges.
Larry Dill, DOT Kaua‘i district engineer, said the project now involves drilling footings for the new bridge. Cranes will be relocated to the east end of the bridge for drilling four additional deep footings.
Dill anticipates this process to run through early April before the project can move into the phase of demolition of the old bridge.
Answering concerns from the audience, Dill assured the crowd that the contractor is keeping an eye on the historical portions of the bridge that will become part of a bridge monument, and will look into concerns of having additional traffic-advisory signage.
“Feb. 15 marks one year since construction started (on the bridge),” said Linda Ka‘iakapu, who operated the Western Shell gas station for 40 years. “I need some kind of help. The state provided us with ingress and exit, but we are on the verge of closing.”
Dill said the bridge project meets the guidelines where the only compensation the state or federal government can provide is for use of property.
Randy Francisco of the HEA and the new president of the Kaua‘i Filipino Chamber of Commerce asked the audience to show some community pride and support the gas station that is the only one between Kalaheo and Waimea.
‘Ele‘ele pedestrian walkway
Dill said to fix the ‘Ele‘ele pedestrian walkway over Kaumuali‘i Highway near the ‘Ele‘ele Shopping Center, the state would need to raise the overall height of the structure by an additional two, maybe three steps on the landings, because the height requirements do not meet the minimum standards. Adding to the complexity of the situation are historical issues that need to be addressed, he said.