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County submits Puna road restoration designs to FEMA

Preliminary designs for road restoration projects in Lower Puna have been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for approval.

Earlier this week, the county submitted to FEMA designs for the realignment of a lower section of Pohoiki Road and the restoration of Highway 137, which was inundated by lava during the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

With FEMA reviewing the plans, the environmental assessment for those projects now can begin. The agency has selected a contractor to conduct the assessments for both projects as well as two other Pohoiki projects: the restoration of lava-inundated sections of upper Pohoiki Road and the possibility of restoring water service to Isaac Hale Beach Park.

In September, FEMA determined the restoration of upper Pohoiki will be considered alongside the realignment of lower Pohoiki, with both projects and the Isaac Hale water project to be covered by the same environmental assessment.

The preliminary plans for the lower Pohoiki realignment indicate that an approximately 2-mile-long stretch of road extending from Highway 137 will be shifted slightly southward. The existing road site will remain county property, and right-of-way agreements will be secured from nearby property owners, a county spokesman said via email.

Earlier this year, the county confirmed that it would reopen all of Highway 137 from the “Four Corners” intersection to Pohoiki Road, and another stretch near the Mackenzie State Recreation Area, with the project expected to begin construction in 2022.

The Highway 137 environmental assessment will be conducted concurrently but separately from the Pohoiki assessment, so completion of one will not wait on the other.

The county anticipates that Pohoiki and Highway 137 restoration can begin by summer 2022.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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