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Loop Road closed for remainder of year

WAILUA — Heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding has temporarily stymied a road improvement project in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said plans to fix a crossing on Wailua Forest Management Road, or Loop Road, were washed out by rainfall and flooding events in April.

As a result, Loop Road will remain closed through the end of the year due to “hazardous and impassable conditions caused by storm damage,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources said on Wednesday. The road serves as the community’s main access to the eastside of the forest reserve.

The Wailua area has endured numerous heavy rainfall events over the last six years. After the floods of 2018, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife was able to secure $2 million from the Hawai‘i Legislature, and other funds, for forest road and crossing repairs.

That move prompted the Division of Forestry and Wildlife to begin developing new designs at the Queensland Crossing or 3rd Crossing in order to obtain the permits needed to do the work, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said. The work was scheduled to begin this summer.

But the deluge of rain in April muddied those plans, as flood waters in spring dramatically altered the stream channel. As a result, new designs are required in order to repair the crossing.

“The modified design will require a new hydrological survey and additional permits. Unfortunately, a permitting backlog may mean that it could be months before any work can begin,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources said.

The department also said it has a contract to perform necessary repairs along some parts of Loop Road, the recently damaged 2nd Crossing and 3rd Crossing. Repairs on the 4.5 miles of road mauka of the crossings will also be conducted by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

All work is expected to be completed by the end of December, assuming the weather cooperates and permits are obtained. However, for safety reasons, all of Loop Road will remain closed to all traffic until the project is finished.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Engineering Division and professional consultants are assisting the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Source: The Garden Island

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