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FEMA Awards Hawai‘i County Over $60 Million in Funds to Repair Roads

April 21, 2020, 12:30 PM HST
* Updated April 28, 2:42 PM
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Lava from fissure 8 advances on Kahukai Street.

Hawai‘i Island will receive more than $61 million in federal aid for road repairs following the Kīlauea eruption of 2018.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded the funds to Hawai‘i County’s Department of Public Works Tuesday.

A portion of the funds will go to repair Highway 137, Pohoiki Road, Leilani Avenue, Hinalo Street, Lauone Street, Honuaula Street and Lighthouse Road, according to press releases from the offices of Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

FEMA and the County of Hawai‘i are engaged in additional discussions with the community to determine what other roads will be repaired using these funds.

UPDATE: The Kīlauea Eruption Recovery website issued the following clarifying statement as part of a post after the funds were announced:

“It’s important to note that, while funding has been approved, decisions about whether to restore additional public roads, or to what extent, remain under evaluation. Issues being considered as part of that include: public safety, access to isolated properties, economic development, and mitigation of risk from future eruptions. We respectfully ask for the community’s continued patience as those issues are resolved.

FEMA provides flexibility in how the funds can be used. For example, if a road isn’t restored, or not fully restored, those unused funds can be allocated to alternative projects in Puna. Alternatives can include other infrastructure projects, such as improving other roads, construction of facilities, or hazard mitigation. Assessments of potential alternative projects would occur after decisions have been made about restoring public roads that were inundated by lava.”

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