Wailua Bike Path Rolls Out

SUBHEAD: Construction crew preparing the beach for removable concrete slab multi-use path.

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Image above: Construction workers started laying down the first portion of the multi-use path by Wailua Beach Wednesday night before public meeting on issue. From original article.

[IB Editor's Note: It seems they began this construction even before the public meeting to determine its future. What a surprise!]

After years of controversy, construction of the Wailua Beach portion of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae, or “the path that goes along the coast,” began Wednesday night. The current work will lay the ground for the actual path construction, which starts next week.

“I want to acknowledge everyone that met with us over the years and expressed their feelings and concerns about the path alignment along Wailua Beach,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said. “We took what was said and weighed it heavily into our decision-making as we have always considered the preservation and protection of the Hawaiian host culture of utmost importance.”

Construction workers will be doing temporary restriping of the highway and placing safety barriers until Jan. 11, when installation of the path is scheduled to begin, according to county officials. Construction is supposed to be finished by March 29. Then, from April 1 to 5, workers will re-stripe Kuhio Highway by Wailua Beach permanently.

As of right now, a night crew is doing the work, but this could change next week, according to county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka.

Carvalho said the administration has made numerous adjustments because of the “important conversations with the community,” in line with the county’s promise to deal with the emotional side of the issue or project first.

“After all of the study and all of the community dialogue, we believe it is time to move forward to link the Lydgate portion of the path through the Wailua Beach corridor in a way that is environmentally sound and culturally sensitive,” he said.

For the last few weeks, the administration has been running an ad in different local print media, warning that for the next three months there may be periodic closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. of the makai lane of Kuhio Highway by Wailua Beach.

On Dec. 29, the administration sent a press release, stating that a recently released report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicates that the coastal path between Kuamo‘o and Papaloa roads will not significantly alter shoreline erosion in the area.

“The report noted that the Wailua shoreline has an annual accretion rate of approximately 3.5 inches,” the release states.

The Army Corps’ Civil Works Branch concluded that the makai edge of the path is at a sufficient distance from the shoreline, according to the release. Additionally, the report states that the proposed concrete slabs do not present the same impacts to coastal erosion in the same way as typical protection structures do.

“The latest report from the Corps of Engineers reinforces our belief that we have planned appropriately for the short- and long-term shoreline trends in Wailua,” Carvalho said in the release.

In the press release, Carvalho praised the county Public Works Department, the state Department of Transportation and the County Attorney’s Office for their “extensive due diligence” that has ensures that the path will be “environmentally sound” built and in a “culturally sensitive manner.”

‘Removable’ slabs
The latest plans for the path at Wailua are for “removable” concrete slabs, each weighing approximately 15,000 pounds, the average weight of an adult male African elephant. County officials said they decided on “removable” sections for the path after a recent periodic erosion in Wailua, which took most of the beach sand and placed it elsewhere. In the last few months, the sand has been slowly returning to Wailua Beach.

County officials said that prior to coming up with final plans, the administration had many discussions with Native Hawaiian leaders, representatives of state and federal agencies, experts in coastal land use and cultural archaeology, as well as a broad cross-section of the community.

Carvalho requested additional archaeological testing in the summer of 2011, even thought this was not required, to ensure minimal disruption of cultural resources in the area. No traditional Hawaiian or historic artifacts, cultural deposits or cultural resources were found during the investigation, according to the administration.

Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro has requested for today’s council meeting, starting at 8:30 a.m., the presence of County Engineer Larry Dill, Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo and Planning Department Director Michael Dahilig.

The meeting’s agenda includes discussion on the actual scope of work for construction, review of approved federal, state and county permits and a memorandum from Ruby Pap, Coastal Land Use Extension Agent at the University of Hawai‘i.

At around 12:30 p.m., the council is scheduled to break for lunch. An hour later, the council is scheduled to reconvene and hear from Dill a report on the construction delays of the path at Papaloa Road, immediately north of Wailua Beach. Construction there was delayed for months, apparently due to a mistake on the concrete level. This discussion is supposed to be followed by a consultation with the county attorney behind closed doors on the circumstances that caused the delay, corrective measures and associated costs.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach & Bike Path 1/2/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach Elephant Path  12/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Bike Path Consideration 12/10/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Bike path still on Wailua Beach 1/25/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Bike Path should be here 12/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: No Path on Wailua Beach 9/17/09

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