Highway 132 on Track to Open in November
The Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works anticipates it will reopening Highway 132 next month, according to a county press release.
Crews have been working to re-establish connectivity from near Puna Geothermal Venture to the area formerly known as “Four Corners” after lava from the 2018 Kīlauea eruption covered about three miles of the highway.
Application of asphalt is complete on both the upper and lower inundated sections, the release said.
Crews must still complete shoulder dressing, striping and signage. Following this work, the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) and Department of Transportation also must complete an inspection to ensure safety before the road can open, the release continued.
Construction began June 10, and the work faced some setbacks after pockets of still-hot lava rock were found in the lower section where the rock was most dense. Temperatures reached up to 800 degrees and resulted in damage to some grading equipment, including breaking of bulldozer shanks, the County explained.
That prompted the County to seek a time extension from Oct. 5, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020, to receive 100% federal reimbursement and approval of a phased approach to opening the road. FWHA granted the extension but approval of a phased approach is pending.
However, the current plan is to open both areas at the same time based on progress made to date and the timeline for completion of the remaining work, the release said.
Hotspots have steadily cooled after being graded, and crews continue to monitor road temperatures.
As of Sept. 30, 2019, the highest current temperature reading is about 160 degrees, measured on the finished asphalt road surface, and continues to drop. Areas adjacent to the road remain hazardous and could remain hot for quite some time.
Once the road is open, motorists must be mindful that areas beyond the five-foot road shoulders are private property, the release stated.
FWHA’s commitment to providing $6.5 million to fund the work is expected to cover the cost. In total, the eruption covered about 13 miles of public roads.
Previously, the County restored temporary access over some inundated portions of Highway 137 to provide access to Isaac Hale Beach Park and neighboring properties.
Decisions about the further restoration of Highway 137, Pohoiki Road, and other inundated public roads, will be made after funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is secured, the County said.