Hanapepe bridge project takes step backward

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    The partially-completed, new Kaumuali‘i Highway bridge over the Hanapepe River is seen last week.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    State contractors jackhammer concrete poured just a month ago out of the new Kaumuali‘i Highway bridge over the Hanapepe River last week.

HANAPEPE — After a month of pouring new concrete on the north side of the new Kaumuali‘i Highway bridge over the Hanapepe River, Kalaheo resident Robert Brodowy spotted some highway workers jackhammering out yards of the new pour.

Brodowy was on his way to the gym in Hanapepe early last week when he saw the construction workers chipping the concrete away. He’s been watching the bridge-replacement project’s progress — with work ongoing in the area since 2017 — and was frustrated to see what appeared to be demolition work happening in an area he thought was already completed.

“I thought we (were) getting close to the end,” Brodowy said. “Then you go by there and see them jackhammer (out) everything they (already) did. My first reaction is (that) it’s gonna be longer to have that bridge fixed. We’re going to pay for this screw-up.”

The project is already behind initial predictions for completion, originally June 2020. Shelly Kunishige, public information officer with the state Department of Transportation, said the DOT now expects “substantial completion” sometime in the first quarter of 2022, more than a year later than the announced target date.

The cement that was originally poured alongside the highway had to be removed because it didn’t meet contract requirements, according to Kunishige. The DOT did not supply requested information on the exact requirements that needed to be met, nor on what shortcomings the project included that failed to meet those requirements.

Kunishige said workers with W.W. Clyde, winning bidder for the contract awarded in 2018 for the permanent bridge construction, would be re-pouring 170 cubic yards of concrete, but did not give a time frame on when that re-pour would happen.

She said the re-pour shouldn’t add to the cost of the project, but did not go into detail on how the price of the project would be impacted.

The project intends to improve the safety and reliability of the highway over the river, through rehabilitation or replacement, addresses bridge width, load capacity, bridge railing and transitions, bridge approaches, and hopes to mitigate the effects of scour (erosion of soil surrounding bridge foundations).

The U.S. DOT and Federal Highway Administration were contacted for comment, but did not respond to questions before press time.


Stephanie Shinno, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. schar freeman March 28, 2021 5:30 am Reply

    Why does it takes at least double the time to complete a building project? Is there “milking” going on? Last weeks flooding, this construction crew had tools, ladders, rebar and various other construction site materials get swept down and out to the sea because of the rapid rise of the Hanapepe River. There is proof with live video taken. I do hope they get fined for that! And pouring the incorrect concrete on such an important project is unacceptable. What gives with this boondoggle of a project anyway?

    1. dumdum March 28, 2021 2:18 pm Reply

      you realize its pointless to “milk it” when they get paid what they bid right?

      1. manawai March 30, 2021 5:03 pm Reply

        dumdum, you forgot about change orders. That’s often where these large contractors make their money. They bid low to get the gig then make it up in change orders.

        1. Jjjames March 31, 2021 9:57 am Reply

          And the only reason why there are change orders is because the contractor’s estimators can see obvious screw ups in the plans. Screw ups by the half-okole engineers that design the projects.

      2. Rail em March 30, 2021 6:34 pm Reply

        Can always ask for more money from state. Just like da rail.

  2. Uncleaina March 28, 2021 8:38 am Reply

    In the rest of the entire world something like this SMALL bridge takes 6-9 months. The concrete pours are supposed to be tested as they happen; not months later. This is the same garbage that has made the Oahu monorail take an extra DECADE. You can see it already happening by Coco Palms. There’s not a huge crew; there’s like 6 guys. Wouldn’t you expect it to take months and months when there’s less guys building a bridge than there is working at Jack in the Box? I’ve been here so long I don’t expect anything else, but heads up – some places use teams of 50, 100 guys to actually get the project done.

    1. truth be known March 28, 2021 12:21 pm Reply

      Uncleaina, you are 100% correct that the pours should have been tested when poured. That’s standard operating procedure. Who awarded this contract to these buffoons. Is there any pay for play going on here? This needs to be investigated. Maybe this is a good example of why we still don’t have a County Auditor. Pretty disgusting really.

    2. My Two Cents March 30, 2021 9:35 pm Reply

      I passed by it today and was like
      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is going on here!
      NAAAAAAAMN! all that rebar and concrete they tor out…

      Someone’s in trouble. And we’re gonna be the ones to pay for it.

  3. Rampartview March 28, 2021 8:42 am Reply

    Seems typical…like paint lines on a highway these are not jobs but become careers!

  4. Craig Millett March 28, 2021 8:46 am Reply

    Not only has this project been poorly managed it was very poorly planned. Five years ago it was well known that climate change would cause sea level rise that will flood most coastal areas on Kauai. That was the optimum time to plan to move low-lying highways and bridges inland to higher elevations. This bridge is likely to be obsolete before it is opened.

    1. Kalaheo March 30, 2021 8:12 am Reply

      What data do you have that suggests this is the case? Evidence is necessary when making claims like this. It should never be that this person claims this or says that. There should always be a hard data set that shows this is definitely occurring before you end up with grossly inaccurate models like those suggested in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

  5. Makani B. Howard March 28, 2021 9:07 am Reply

    WE saw this, too, when we drove by. Were questioning why they were ripping up their work. This project will be turning into the Honolulu Rail project. Costs go up and delays continue. Funny how they had put up wood so that passerbys couldn’t view what they were doing! LOL! They sure are slllllllooooooowwwwww………

  6. Jeremy Campbell March 28, 2021 9:22 am Reply

    How does another 170 yards of concrete not add to the cost, plus the labor for the army of workers they had out there for weeks jackhammering out the wrong concrete. not to mention the labor and equipment to repour. Sounds like a expensive mistake to me. Was the job overbid or something or maybe the contractor is cutting costs somewhere else? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Chiem Ma March 28, 2021 1:36 pm Reply

      Just a guess, Jerms, but because the contractor that made the error is responsible for fixing it? Maybe they have to pay for the removal, too. But I agree, there have got to be added costs somewhere…

  7. Kauaidoug March 28, 2021 9:42 am Reply

    Who are these yo yos to n charge of these projects? I see the Coco palms highway widening starting up and I hope I’m still alive when it is finished or the ocean isn’t overlapping the shoulder of the new road. We have already lost a parking lot and all the trees lining the highway on the beach. Trees I might add that help keep the beach together all ng the bike path.
    These guys and gals make big bucks in their planning offices but someone should be held accountable.

  8. RGLadder37 March 28, 2021 1:09 pm Reply

    Will you lighten up county? This is not the golden state bridge you are building. It’s not that much concrete. Really. Making things better.

    1. B March 29, 2021 1:56 pm Reply

      When’s the last time you poured concrete? It’s expensive. 170 yards, that thick is well over 100k

    2. Mr. Kalaheo March 30, 2021 3:50 am Reply

      Where is the golden state bridge…? Is like the Golden Gate Bridge???

  9. JoeBiddin March 28, 2021 1:13 pm Reply

    To say that DOT did not provide concrete Specs. is total B.S. During the bidding process the bidding contractor had to know project specs so they can bid accurately. To say it will not add to project cost because contractor have to eat the extra cost. Or they simply hush hush the matter and bill the State. Most contracts also carry a 15-20% contingency for cost over run like this. The contractor was caught trying to cut corners.

    The same happened in building the Koloa Bypass road. The contractor cut corners by not laying the required thickness of asphalt. The so called error was caught during inspections. They have this Gadget that can measure thickness and density.

  10. MisterM March 29, 2021 4:55 am Reply

    As someone who built many similar bridges, this is a fascinating (and expensive) screwup. Seems the wrong concrete mix design was used? That the State refuses to disclose the cause of the problem is totally unacceptable, unprofessional, if not illegal – it is public information. TGI needs to get the facts and not accept the bureaucratic brush-off.

    If the State is claiming no additional money will be needed, obviously they are pointing the finger at the contractor, but that’s always what public agencies do, regardless of who is ultimately found to be at fault (usually decided by an arbitrator/judge 5-10 years later, by which time the Public has long forgotten, culpable State employees are long retired and the incompetence and wasted taxpayer money is swept under the rug).

  11. james March 29, 2021 7:33 am Reply

    Totally unacceptable. In the real world, heads would roll and jobs would be lost. The contractor should pay for any replacement work plus a hefty penalty. Why does the County act like we are some 3rd world country when it comes to public work projects?

    1. Jjjames March 30, 2021 10:36 am Reply

      I believe this is a STATE project. It’s on a State Highway. That means “INCOMPETENCE FROM THE TOP DOWN”. Although, the County should be right on top of this, and ALL state projects. Because it affects all of us on Kauai and WE vote for county leaders.

  12. Melissa Zeman March 30, 2021 8:45 am Reply

    SO typical of almost anything that gets planned in this state. No one takes responsibility for ensuring that a project is done correctly, on time, and as planned. Then all the finger pointing begins. Thereʻs surely a project manager who was supposed to be monitoring this work- maybe they were sitting at home “working remotely” instead of doing their due diligence. This is why we canʻt have nice things…

  13. Lorine Atwood March 30, 2021 12:21 pm Reply

    My daughter lived here 20 years before I mo ed here 1 year ago – she warned me that things are done “differently” here! Having watched freeways go up in LA ares as a kid, the international airport in Denver, etc I can see the difference. Here, mostly with public projects. Do the same companies use bid on public as private projects? Auditors are essential. And government MUST be more responsive. Meetings must be open for public projects. Thanks now to Mr. Brodowy! Ms. Kunishiga needs to pay attention to such citizens. I hope she is well versed in all best practices that apply to these projects.

  14. manawai March 30, 2021 5:13 pm Reply

    The real answer here is that none of us here have the facts as to why the mistake was made or why this project is taking so darned long. It’s probably due to a number of issues. We’d have to be on the project ourselves to know what’s really going on. Lord help us on this one.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.