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Chain of Craters Road Issued as Emergency Route

September 22, 2014, 7:20 PM HST
* Updated September 23, 6:51 AM
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The National Park Service announced Monday that it will work with the State and County of Hawai‘i to construct an emergency route along the former Chain of Craters Road to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava covers Highway 130.

According to a press release, scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimated on Sept. 19 that based on the flow’s location and rate of advancement at that time, lava could reach Highway 130 in 21 days – but as of Monday, the lava flow advance rate slowed.

The route, mostly within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, would provide emergency access for the community and would not be open for visitor use.

Nearly eight miles of the coastal section of Chain of Craters Road is buried beneath rough, hardened lava, and 5.4 miles is within the national park.

The open section of Chain of Craters Road spans 19 miles from the summit of Kīlauea to sea level within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Opened in 1965, the road has been blocked by lava for 37 of its 49-year existence.

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The emergency route will follow the old lava-covered road alignment as much as practicable, according to the press release.

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie also signed a supplemental emergency proclamation Monday to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road.

Monday’s proclamation, supplemental to the emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extends the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130.

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It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

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