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Lower East Rift Zone Evacuation Routes Ready

June 5, 2018, 8:22 AM HST
* Updated June 6, 9:39 AM
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The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation said evacuation routes from lower Puna through Chain of Craters Road, Kamaili Road and a road on Sanford’s property are ready for use if Highway 130 becomes impassable.

“If Highway 130 becomes further damaged, if it can be repaired, we will do so,” explained Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay.

Chain of Craters Road

Grading and leveling of Chain of Craters Road for an evacuation route was completed by Saturday, June 2.

“If we lose highway 130, we will still have through this area for our residents to make sure they can evacuate,” said Ed Sniffen Deputy Director of Highways for Hawai‘i Department of Transportation.

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Sniffen said DOT called Goodfellow Brothers on Tuesday and the work began on Wednesday.

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“Now the governor gave us a directive, he let us know that he wants us to ensure that we are staying ahead of the lava flow. We can’t stop it, but we can prepare for it,” explained Sniffen. “Our first priority is to ensure 130 stays open as long as possible.”

Physical preparation of Chain of Craters-Kalapana Road as an evacuation route through Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Highway 11, should Highway 130 be cut off by lava began Wednesday, May 30, 2018, and was expected to be complete Saturday, June 2, 2018.

In addition to Chain of Craters, Alaili Road is ready as well.

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Alaili Road

Work began on this alternate emergency route May 31, 2018, and is expected to be ready for emergency use on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

“We are grateful to Sanford’s Service Center for their kokua in preparing this alternate route for their neighbors in Puna,” said Butay. “This really shows the aloha and community spirit present in Puna as we all work together for those affected by the latest Kīlauea eruption.”

HDOT is working with the County of Hawai‘i and Sanford’s Service Center Inc. to prepare an alternate emergency route to Highway 130 (Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road).

This route would traverse three acres of Sanford’s Service Center Inc. property north of Kamaili Road/Opihikao Drive and connect with the county-owned Alaili Road.

Backup Plans for Highway 130

One option is, you put a gradable material on it, so you can keep it drivable, explained Don Smith, HDOT district engineer.

“Then if it becomes to the point where the heat won’t allow that, you can come in with some bigger material—rock—and try to somewhat insulate it so you lose the heat value before you get to the surface and then put graded material,” Smith said.

He said HDOT also has heat-resistant concrete with stainless steel panels that could be used to bridge it.

When asked if there is a point the cracks in the highway could become too big to continue mitigations, Smith said the issue is heat rather then size.

“If it’s an active fissure, you can’t work with that,” he stated.

He said crews would continue to work on the highway, but the work is only permitted when safe enough conditions are present.

“As long as, Civil Defense allows us safe working conditions, then we would continue to do that,” he explained. “Now sometimes that comes and goes though, so we might not be able to work when its worse but work when its not as bad.”

Chain of Craters Road to be used for emergency evacuation route from lower Puna, if Highway 130 becomes impassable, June 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Chain of Craters Road at the Hawai‘i County and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park boundary, June 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Goodfellow Brothers, contracted by Hawaii Department of Transportation, working on the evacuation route from Kalapana through Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Highway 11 in Volcano, if Highway 130 can no longer be used, June 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Ed Sniffen Deputy Director of Highways for Hawaii Department of Transportation discusses progress of the emergency evacuation route on Chain of Craters Road inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on June 1, 2018 at 11a.m. VC: Crystal Richard

Chain of Craters Road to be used for emergency evacuation route from lower Puna, June 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Steel plates cover cracks in Highway 130 from the Kilauea Eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone on June 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

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