AP NEWS

Hawaii County seeks road construction deadline extension

September 8, 2019

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii County has been waiting on approval of a three-month extension request to complete the reconstruction of a Big Island highway inundated by lava, officials said.

The county Department of Public Works summited the request several weeks ago to the Federal Highway Administration after dense high-temperature rock from the 2018 Kilauea volcanic eruption slowed progress, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .

An extension was requested for the lower section of the road “given the higher temperature that is preventing us from completing it,” Public Works Director David Yamamoto said.

Construction crews have been working with cooling lava rock on Highway 132 above 700 degrees Fahrenheit (371 Celsius) in some areas, officials said.

Meanwhile, paving of the upper portion of the highway began last week.

Highway 132 is expected to be completed by Oct. 5 to qualify for 100% federal reimbursement, officials said.

Public Works has also requested permission to open the road in two phases as construction will be completed in the upper section first before the lower section, officials said.

The construction’s original estimated cost was about $12 million, but has decreased by almost half after initial paving, FHA spokeswoman Denise Laitinen said. The department has committed to reimburse the county $6,503,337, which is about the same amount that has already been spent on the highway.

Any additional cost must be covered by the county, officials said.

Construction includes two 12-feet (4-meter) travel lanes and a 10-feet (3-meter) shoulder, officials said. When the highway is complete, it will grant access to some residents’ land-locked homes and farms about 24 miles (39 kilometers) southeast of Hilo.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/