COURTESY LYNN ARAKI-REGAN / DECEMBER 2006
A temporary bridge in East Maui connects remote Kipahulu to Hana Town. The temporary bridge, shown here during a blessing ceremony, was closed temporarily yesterday. It replaced the damaged Paihi Bridge. CLICK FOR LARGE
Bridge closure worries East Maui residents
WAILUKU » A landslide at a temporary bridge in East Maui closed traffic leading into Haleakala National Park for several hours yesterday and renewed Kipahulu residents' fears that they would be cut off again.
The park, frequented by hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, was shut down shortly after officials were notified about the landslide at 11 a.m.
National Park Service spokesman Dominic Cardea said the county allowed some 16 visitor vehicles to exit Kipahulu using the temporary bridge but restricted incoming traffic to local residents.
Cardea said engineers inspected the temporary bridge at Paihi at 2 p.m. yesterday and reopened the road.
The temporary bridge was put in service Dec. 3 to replace the Paihi Bridge, which was damaged after earthquakes and torrential rain in mid-October.
During the two-month shutdown last year, a number of Kipahulu and Kaupo residents found themselves forced to stay with relatives and friends in Hana during the workweek.
The Hawaii Army National Guard, using a helicopter, also dropped off fuel and emergency provisions to an estimated 300 residents in Kipahulu and 40 Kaupo residents, including a generator and an ice-making machine.
Farmers in Kipahulu also had difficulty delivering their produce in a timely manner to markets, taking about 3 1/2 hours to make deliveries using a back road to Hana.
Kipahulu farmer Chuck Boerner said if the county closes the temporary bridge at Paihi, then it should reopen the back road, which was shut down about six months ago.
Boerner, a farmer for 35 years, said closing the bridge and back road would "adversely affect" the economy in Kipahulu.
The Paihi Bridge, built in 1911 and damaged last year, is one of 25 bridges owned by the county from Hana town to Keokea.