State officials should be ready to fund quake repairs
The cost of damage to historic sites and parks and Big Island reservoirs and infrastructure has risen to several million dollars.
TALLIES of damage from earthquakes last month have yet to be completed for parks and other state facilities, but if indications hold, costs will reach far beyond the current preliminary figure of $1.6 million.
Some of the facilities, like Hulihee Palace in the Kailua-Kona district of the Hawaii Island, are historic sites that weren't in disrepair before the quakes Oct. 15, while others, already suffering neglect, were further damaged.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources' list of damaged sites includes Hapuna Beach park in Kohala and Makena State Park on Maui, which serve primarily recreation purposes, but commercial enterprises need the Kailua-Kona Wharf to be safe and sound to continue their businesses.
All of the facilities will require fixes, which state land director Peter Young predicts will run into several million dollars. Young is prudently consulting with federal officials in hopes of capturing emergency funding to help foot the bill.
Nonetheless, the Legislature and Gov. Linda Lingle should get ready to budget state funds to restore these sites, not only for tour and cruise businesses but for public safety.
At the Kailua wharf, the earthquake exacerbated hazards that already existed, tour operators said, with at least three workers compensation cases and numerous incidents of boat damage on file.
A post-quake inspection also reported cracks top-side in concrete slabs and pavements, stairways, walls and boat ramps as well as cracks in pilings and support columns below the water's surface.
Further down the Big Island coast, officials are still assessing problems at Kealakekua Bay where the quake caused a massive landslide, forcing the state to close the area. Stabilizing the cliffs that hang over the bay likely will carry a multimillion-dollar price tag.
Hawaii County will need more than $10 million to repair reservoirs, including one near Waimea town. In all, more than $17 million will be needed to fix roads, bridges and county structures.
Meanwhile, the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus suffered about $2.5 million in damage, including cracks in the business college and architecture buildings and Sinclair Library.
As a result of a robust economy, state revenue collections have been equally healthy so there is money in the treasury for repairs. When the legislative session opens in January, the land department and Hawaii County should have their to-do lists ready.