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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Hilo bridge replacement going ahead

Associated Press

HILO, Hawai'i — Hawai'i County is pushing ahead with plans to replace the Kawailani Street bridge with a longer, wider version that will be better able to withstand floods.

Officials say they have $1.1 million in state and federal money to pay for design work and Gov. Ben Cayetano also has committed to provide $1 million. Ben Ishii, the county engineer overseeing the project, said the county plans to ask the federal government to pay the remaining $5 million needed for the project.

Design work should be done sometime late next year and construction finished in 2005, said Dennis Lee, Department of Public Works director.

Plans call for realigning the flood channel to straighten the Waiakea River's path, and buying land to make room for a sidewalk on the span. Besides handling more water, the improved canal also will feature a wall in the middle of the channel to reduce the chance of swirling water climbing over the bank.

"It will help most of the people immediately upstream from the bridge," Ishii said. "A lot of people want it done."

The record November 2000 flood clogged the channel with debris, causing water to back up and flood several nearby homes, one of which was destroyed.

Lee said the county has been successful in getting federal money for other bridges. "I'm more concerned about meeting the construction deadline," he said. "I'm not real worried about the funding. I'm sure we will get it."