East Hawaii News

Agreement Reached for Two Lane Chain of Craters Road

October 21, 2014, 10:19 PM HST
* Updated October 21, 10:22 PM
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United States Senator Brian Schatz announced Tuesday that Hawai’i County and the National Park Service have reached a formal agreement to begin construction that will restore Chain of Craters Road to include two lanes of traffic.

As a result of the June 27 Kilauea lava flow, Senator Schatz worked with federal and local officials to restore Chain of Craters Road to include two lanes of traffic at its original width of 22 feet.

Chain of Craters Road has been covered and blocked by lava for the past 37 years of its 49-year existence.

“I am pleased to see construction will soon begin on the expansion of Chain of Craters Road,” said Senator Schatz. “The two-lane road is critical to the Puna community and will ensure that residents have access to the rest of the Big Island. I will continue to work with Mayor Kenoi and the National Park Service to ensure construction remains on track and moving forward.”

Construction is scheduled to begin Friday, Oct. 24.

The transformed route will stretch between Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana.

Beginning Friday, a half-mile section of paved road will be closed. The area has been available for pedestrians to access the lava that covered it in 2003.

Additionally, the “Road Closed” sign engulfed in lava will be removed and become part of park history.

Other closures include the historic flows and coastal area alongside the construction.

However, the turnaround, bathrooms, and concession stand near the Hōlei Sea Arch will remain open.

Traffic delays should be expected Thursday and Friday mornings as heavy equipment is transported from the Kilauea summit down the 19-mile stretch of Chain of Craters Road to the turnaround.

“We intend to reopen the closed area as soon as it is safe to do so and the bulldozers move closer to Kalapana,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “But now is the time to take those last photos of the iconic ‘Road Closed’ sign before it is removed on Friday.”

Last week, 2.2 miles of Highway 130, which were covered in lava to where it meets the park boundary, were graded by bulldozers from the Kalapana side.

Crews began to grade the 5.4 miles through the park to the Kalapana boundary this week.

The work is being done by the County of Hawai’i and overseen by the National Park Service and Federal Highways Administration.

The emergency route is being built to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava from Kilauea Volcano’s June 27 flow reaches the ocean.

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