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Restoration of Highway 132 continues on schedule

More than a month after construction began to restore lava-covered portions of Highway 132 in lower Puna, work is progressing steadily and is on schedule, county officials said Thursday.

Portions of the roadway were inundated by lava during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano in lower Puna.

“After receiving federal permission to re-establish Highway 132, road work began on June 10, 2019,” County Department of Public Works spokeswoman Denise Laitinen said in an email. “Currently, work is proceeding swiftly and is on track to be completed by Oct. 5, 2019. Crews are working hard to meet the Oct. 5 deadline in order to qualify for 100 percent federal reimbursement of the project.”

Plans call for Highway 132 to be restored with two 12-foot travel lanes and 10-foot shoulders, she said.

According to Laitinen, rough grading work on the upper section of Highway 132, a portion of the road closer to Pahoa, will be completed in a few weeks.

Aggregate crushing and spreading work in that area is about half complete, she said.

Rough grading work on the lower section of the road, closer to Green Mountain and near where Highway 132 meets Highway 137, is about a quarter complete.

“Lava has been opened/cleared to the Four Corners area and just short of tying into the Beach Road (Highway 137),” Laitinen said.

According to Laitinen, Highway 132 will be restored to Four Corners and from Four Corners to the end of the lava inundation on the old Government Beach Road to provide connectivity.

“Many Big Island residents with homes and farms that have been land-locked by lava have voiced great relief about being able to once again reach their farms … and homes,” she said. “Because work is proceeding at such a brisk pace, we have not received any complaints about the pace of work.”

However, Laitinen said the department has received one negative comment from someone who felt there should be no development in Lava Zone 1 and that Highway 132 should not be reconstructed.

Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said in an email she visited the work site last week and is pleased with the progress made on the highway.

“It’s impressive to witness the machines cut through all that blue rock,” she said. “While we have committed to being done by Oct. 5, I’m hopeful it will be done sooner.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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