2006 BIG ISLAND EARTHQUAKE: 1 YEAR LATER
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The footing of the Kawailii Bridge on the Hawaii Belt Road near the 35-mile marker was damaged by last year's earthquake, making the bridge unsafe. A temporary span was built alongside it.
Temporary infrastructure buys time for repairs
HILO » When an earthquake and aftershock collapsed one lane of the embankment at the entrance to the Kawailii Bridge on the Hamakua Coast, the state Department of Transportation rolled a temporary bridge across the gulch to take its place.
State highways, bridges, harbors and airports are functioning normally on the Big Island, but more work needs to be done.
Highway repair costs to date
$31M: Federal funds
$3M: State funds
MAJOR PROJECTS COMPLETED
$2.4M: Resurfacing of roads
$6.3M: Debris clearance
$860,000: Bridge repair in South Kohala
$6.1M: Temporary bridge in Hamakua
Traffic approaching the new steel bridge on Hawaii Belt Road, 35 miles north of Hilo, curves a bit to cross the bridge, but there is no real delay.
That is the story generally for all the state and county transportation facilities on the Big Island. More work might be needed, but what is in place is working well.
In the case of Kawailii, some of the roadway just before the bridge tumbled into the gully during the earthquakes.
Knowing that repairs would take some time, the state created a bypass using a modular steel bridge built by Acrow Corp. of New Jersey, said Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa. It is the same kind of bridge installed at Wainiha on the North Shore of Kauai in 2004 and used by the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
The bridge is literally rolled into place. Ten-foot modules are bolted together and rolled forward over the gap to be bridged using a "launcher" while additional segments are bolted in place at the back. Two-thirds of the weight remains on firm ground until the bridge is finally in place.
Cost are $2 million for the bridge and $4.1 million for the detour site preparation.
When permanent repairs are done at Kawailii, the temporary bridge can be disassembled and put into storage.
On the other side of the Big Island, $860,000 in repairs were done to the Honokoa Bridge just north of Kawaihae.
At Kawaihae Harbor, crews worked around the clock to repair the damage in three days, said harbor agent Elton Suganuma.
A 16-inch crack at Pier 1 was capped with asphalt, slumping ground was filled with asphalt and three broken pipes were repaired.
Repairs underneath Pier 1, a long dock divided into three sections, are to begin in December, and repair of a warehouselike "shed" at the pier will start early next year.
Hilo Airport, like Honolulu Airport, has had its former backup generator, which had just 10 percent of the airport's needed capacity, upgraded to one with 100 percent capacity, Ishikawa said.
For the county, various road, embankment and bridge repairs totaled $3.3 million, part of an estimated $17 million in repairs needed overall.
The county has spent $1.2 million to date, and is completing design of more projects in order to put them out to bid, said Department of Public Works spokeswoman Noelani Whittington.
The most contentious issue was debris on a winding side road at Sand Gulch on the Hamakua Coast. With the road unusable, some residents complained about having to make a 15-minute detour.
The Public Works Department arranged for a contractor to clean up the road in December, a month ahead of the actual signing of the contract, Whittington said. The eventual cost was $270,000.
But the narrow roadway is unstable, and additional work is still in the design phase.
In remote North Kohala, residents took a different approach, said Mike Gomes, land manager at Surety Kohala Corp.
People who owned earth-moving equipment got together and voluntarily cleaned up the only roadway through the district in a single day, he said.