Governor Issues Executive Order Turning Over State-Owned Portion of Chain of Craters Road to Hawaii County

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today issued an executive order that turns over 3.68 miles of the state-owned portion of Chain of Craters Road near Kalapana to Hawaii County.

Chain of Craters

The executive order states that the land is “hereby turned over to the County of Hawaii, in fee simple, for use as a county highway, and the County of Hawaii shall hereafter be responsible for its repair and maintenance as a county highway.”

On Sept. 15, Gov. Abercrombie signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road, for use as an alternate emergency route should the June 27th lava flow cross Highway 130 near Pahoa and isolate communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County. That proclamation, a supplement to the original emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extended the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

 

Contingency Plans Announced for Pahoa Schools in Case of Highway 130 Closure

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE) continues to work on contingency plans for public schools, students and staff in preparation for lava to eventually cross Pahoa’s Highway 130. The lava flow stalled Sunday on its approach toward Pahoa town. However, volcanic activity is ongoing.

Pahoa High and Intermediate
“We are doing our best to keep a sense of normalcy in our schools and we stand ready to adjust our operations as needed,” stated Mary Correa, complex area superintendent for Ka‘u, Kea‘au, Pahoa.

Given the information from the subject-area experts, the DOE is committed to doing what is necessary to allow public school teachers and students to continue teaching and learning. This includes preparing for the potential loss of an elementary school. The DOE is building an alternate site for elementary students in the Kea‘au High lower parking lot that could hold a number of classrooms. The site would accommodate at least 17 classrooms and up to 500 students and staff. The initial estimated cost to the DOE is $9 million.

“We believe that setting up an alternate site is necessary in order to ensure that our teachers and students have everything ready should we lose a school,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We continue to tackle a number of scenarios and we appreciate the flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawai‘i County agencies in our preparation efforts.”

Based on the expectation that access to Keonepoko Elementary, Pahoa High & Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will be compromised, plans are being made for students who reside north of the flow to be rerouted to the Kea‘au complex when the flow crosses Highway 130. Students who reside south of the flow will remain in their homeschools if those facilities are not negatively impacted.

“When the lava crosses the highway, we want to make sure everything is in place in order to provide continued school services,” said Correa.

Pahoa complex currently has an estimated 1,800 students and roughly 300 employees.

Plans have been shared with parents at all three schools via letters and school meetings. Besides student planning, the DOE is also initiating plans that would guide affected employees on necessary changes. Earlier this month the DOE asked parents and staff who may have changed their residence to immediately update their contact information with school administrators.

Lava Flow 2.7 Miles From Pahoa Village Road… UPSLOPE!

This map shows the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone in relation to lower Puna.

Click to see large scale map

Click to see large scale map

The area of the flow on September 12, 2014, at 12:30 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on September 15 at 2:00 PM is shown in red. The front of the active flow was 15.5 km (9.6 miles; straight-line distance) from the vent and had crossed the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve boundary into the vacant northwest corner of Kaohe Homesteads.

The flow front was advancing toward the northeast and was 4.3 km (2.7 miles) upslope from Pāhoa Village Road. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 17.7 km (11.0 miles).

The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). For an explanation of down-slope path calculations, see: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/. Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the digital elevation model (DEM) perfectly represents the earth’s surface. But, DEMs are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions.

The purple arrow shows a short term projection of flow direction based on the flow behavior over the past several days and the local topography. All older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray; the yellow line marks the lava tube.

Lava Flow Estimated to Cross Highway 130 in Two Weeks

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Land and Natural Resources announce the immediate closure of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, until further notice, due to the hazards associated with the June 27 lava flow. Wao Kele o Puna is owned by OHA and managed by DLNR.

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana, OHA (Chief Executive Officer) said, “It is prudent at this time to close Wao Kele o Puna due to lava activity and subsequent unsafe conditions.

William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson said, “We join with Hawaii Civil Defense and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to warn the public of extreme danger from lava flowing through cracks in Wao Kele O Puna, and Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve. Both areas are off-limits to all persons. We will prosecute anyone entering these areas for any purpose, including unauthorized lava sightseeing tours. Hikers have been lost or injured in these areas, and personnel called in to rescue them have also been put in danger.”

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will be assisting Hawaii County to build the alternate roads in Puna.

Lava is estimated to cross Highway 130 in approximately two weeks if it stays on its current path.

DOFAW will provide a D8 bulldozer and equipment operator to Nanawale/Railroad Ave. tomorrow and expect work will take several weeks. Portions of the old railroad right-of-way run through state forest and unencumbered lands. Railroad Ave. bisects Nanawale state Forest Reserve

Civil Defense Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Sunday

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Sunday September 7th at 10:00AM.

Photo taken yesterday on Highway 130 between Longs Drug Store and HAAS Charter School.

Photo taken yesterday on Highway 130 between Longs Drug Store and HAAS Charter School.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues very slowly in a north direction.  Very little vegetation is burning and there is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  The surface flow has advanced approximately 200 yards since yesterday.  Subsurface flow activity also continues.  The surface flow is moving very slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .8 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Due to the proximity of the lava flow activity to the nearby residential areas, the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory has elevated the eruption alert level to an Eruption Warning as of Thursday September 4th. Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

New Lava Flow Map Shows Pahoa Town in Direct Path of Lava

Small-scale map showing the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone as of September 4, 2014.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Lava on the surface at 1 PM, outlined in red, was 13.3 km (8.3 miles) from the vent and 1.2 km (0.7 miles) from the east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. The front of the flow was spilling into another crack, which was steaming.

The blue lines show potential flow paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). All older lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray; the yellow line marks the lava tube.

Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Anticipation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed an emergency proclamation in preparation for the June 27 lava flow crossing Highway 130 near Pahoa, potentially isolating communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

abercrombieheaderThe proclamation suspends certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activates the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

“State agencies are working with the County of Hawaii to provide alternative access to lower Puna if lava crosses the main highway,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This proclamation will ensure that isolated communities receive a continuation of services.

“Health officials are also advising all residents living near the lava flow to plan ahead for potential smoke from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide. Conditions for nearby communities may vary widely due to the unpredictability of wind and weather.”

The disaster emergency relief period specified in the proclamation begins today and continues through Oct. 15, 2014.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Pahoa Roundabout Contract Awarded – Pre-Construction On Schedule To Begin In September

The state Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises motorists well in advance of an upcoming detour as it plans for construction of the new Pahoa Roundabout on Hawaii Island. Beginning in mid- to late September the HDOT anticipates construction signage will begin to go up and construction preparation work will begin as the contractor prepares a temporary detour route.

pahoa round

The detour is anticipated to be put in place in mid- to late October, closing the Pahoa Bypass and diverting traffic onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard.

Detour conditions will be as follows:

  • Complete closure of Pahoa Bypass Road from Pahoa Village Road to Kahakai Boulevard
  • 24-hour detour onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Detour speed limit of 25 mph
  • Left turn pocket lane created for Pahoa Marketplace

The $4.8 million project awarded to Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd, in June of 2014, is expected to begin pre-construction activities in September with completion in summer of 2015. The purpose of this project is to provide a safe, efficient, and accessible facility for all users including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists. The project was needed to address safety and traffic congestion as well as address future increases in traffic volumes.

The HDOT is working to schedule a public meeting prior to opening the upcoming detour. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for early October. Please stay tuned as more information on the meeting will be forthcoming as the date, time and location are finalized.

 

Another Wreck at Malama Market Intersection of H130

Today at about 12:45 there was another wreck on Highway 130 at the Malama Market intersection.

Crash 1Traffic was backed up for a while and by the time I got to the intersection… the ambulance had already left the scene.

crash 2Be careful out there folks!!!

Yes… That Was Me in Today’s Wreck at Malama Market Intersection

Today at about 10:30 my cousin and I were driving back home after dropping my wife’s car off at Kolohe Auto Repair when we got in an accident at the Malama Market intersection on Highway 130 here in Pahoa.

View from inside the car right after the wreck.

View from inside the car right after the wreck.  I tried to get out of the car but was too stunned to even move and my neck and back hurt so felt it was best to just stay put.

I was the passenger in a 2009 Scion that took the brunt of the impact.  Simply put… what happened shouldn’t have happened had the driver we hit was paying attention.

We were driving towards Kalapana on Highway 130 and the driver of a Jeep Wrangler was driving towards town direction.  He moved into the left turn lane at the Malama Market intersection and came to a stop.

As we were going at the speed limit recommended for the area of 45 MPH… right as we got to the intersection… the Jeep Wrangler decided that he was going to take a left turn in to the Malama Market area.

The driver of the car I was in… slammed on her brakes but it was too late and we slammed into the car.

I spent all day in the hospital getting everything from Cat Scans to X-Rays while the whole day my neck was in some sort of collar to keep me from moving it.

I’m now happy to report that I’m back home with the diagnosis of serious whiplash and I have a nice gash down the shin of my left leg.

Highway 130 and this Malama Market intersection have been one of the most dangerous ones in the State and today it proved itself to me personally.

The State KNOWS there is a problem with this intersection yet accidents continue to happen there almost daily.  People have lost limbs, lost cars, broken bones and still yet nothing has been done.

There is plans to install a round-a-bout at this intersection in the next few months… I’m not sure how that will work in the long run.
pahoa roundMore posts related to accidents on Highway 130 can be found here:  Highway 130

26-Year-Old Identified in Highway 130 Fatality

A 26-year-old Hilo man died Sunday (April 6) from injuries he received in a two-vehicle collision on the Keaʻau-Pāhoa Road (Route 130) between the 3- and 4-mile markers in Keaʻau.

HPDBadgeResponding to a 4:31 a.m. call, Puna patrol officers determined that the Hilo man was operating a 2010 Subaru multi-purpose vehicle and traveling west on the Keaʻau-Pāhoa Road when he overtook another vehicle and collided with a 2004 Ford F-350 pickup truck traveling east.

The driver of the Ford pickup truck, a 52-year-old Keaʻau man, was transported to Hilo Medical Center with minor injuries. He was also arrested for suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and was released pending investigation.

Police are also investigating whether the driver of the other vehicle may have been intoxicated and speeding.

Both drivers were wearing their seat belts.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

He was identified as 26-year-old Matthew S. Therrien of Hilo.

Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119.

This is the fourth traffic fatality on Hawaiʻi Island this year compared with 11 at this time last year.

Highway 130 Claims First Fatality of 2014

A 53-year-old Keaʻau woman died Saturday (January 4) from injuries she sustained in a two-vehicle collision on Route 130 .2 miles south of the Route 139 intersection in Keaʻau.
HPDBadge

Responding to an 8:28 p.m. call, Puna patrol officers determined that the woman was operating a 2001 Mercury four-door sedan and traveling north on Route 130 when she crossed the center median and collided with a 1999 Mercedes Benz multi-purpose vehicle traveling south.

Fire rescue personnel took the driver of the Mercedes, a 56-year-old woman from Keaʻau, and her 23-year-old daughter to Hilo Medical Center.

The driver of the Mercury was pronounced dead at 11:26 p.m. at Hilo Medical Center.

All occupants were wearing their seatbelts.

It does not appear that alcohol or drugs were involved but speed was a factor in the crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

The name of the woman who died is being held pending notification of the next of kin.

Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call Officer Casey Cabral at 961-8889.

This is the 1st traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with none at the same time last year.

Highway 130 Shoulder Conversion Project – Clarifications

I posted the following comment on the Facebook group “Bike Commuter of Hilo“:

As a former member of the Keaau Pahoa Advisory Group (KPAG) on Highway 130… I can tell folks that the last drawing I saw on this Highway widening plan that is starting now is supposed to have a Bike lane.

Whether it will have one or not is yet to be seen. I don’t have much confidence that the State really listened to us KPAG Members to well as they are installing the Pahoa Round-a-bout at a location we didn’t want!

The intent of the project is to improve safety and traffic flow by converting the existing T-intersection into a single-lane modern roundabout. Construction work time is estimated at approximately 12 months.

The intent of the project is to improve safety and traffic flow by converting the existing T-intersection into a single-lane modern roundabout. Construction work time is estimated at approximately 12 months.

Doug Zang (not speaking on behalf of the DOT or SSFM) weighed in on my comment and stated the following:

Damon, some clarification is needed. As you know, I was actively involved in that project as well. The DOT has a very complicated and confusing way of implementing and funding the projects along that road, and given how long things take, I can understand the confusion.

The project that is being started this week is the “Shoulder Conversion Project.” It is NOT the same thing as the project you were involved with as a KPAG member. Yes, same highway. Yes, construction. NOT the same project.

The Shoulder Conversion Project is a short-term modification to ONLY the segment of highway between the Humane Society and Shower Drive. The only thing it will do is improve the shoulder on the mauka side of the highway so that people can drive on the mauka shoulder during the PM rush hour much as they drive on the makai shoulder during the AM rush hour today. All other hours of the day, the highway will STILL be only 2 lanes wide, and motorists will NOT be using the shoulder.

In essence, HDOT needs to widen the Waipahoehoe Bridge so that the shoulder extends at a full width across that bridge. (That is the reason the shoulder is not already being used today for that purpose in the afternoon.) So you can think of this as strictly a short-term fix until the full widening of the highway, all the way from Keaau to Pahoa, takes place.

HDOT did a *totally separate* environmental assessment for that shoulder conversion project, and it was always on a timeline ahead of the long-term widening of the highway (which is what you and I were both involved with, and the different environmental assessment that I wrote). The reason for this has to do with getting available funding. It was easier for HDOT to get funding for the shoulder conversion and make things somewhat better in the short-term. KPAG *was* told about that project, repeatedly, and told that THAT project was on a faster timeline than ours. You may not have been around for that discussion as I recall you were not present for probably the last three KPAG meetings.

In the long term, the project that both you and I were involved with WILL INDEED be wider (4 lanes, not two) and have shoulders that WILL serve bicyclists and pedestrians. THAT project, by the way, is still being designed, so it is some time off in the future before that design gets finalized and constructed.

The contact over at the HDOT office in Hilo that is involved with the Shoulder Conversion is named Julann Sonomura. If you call her (feel free to tell her I referred you) she can explain all this to you in greater detail.

Sorry for the novel, everyone, but I felt this needs to be made clear so the public understands. From the standpoint of bicyclists in East Hawaii, the Shoulder Conversion is good news but also not-so-good news. During the PM rush hour, the shoulder heading towards Pahoa will be filled with cars (much as it is in the AM heading the other way), so it will not be a place bicyclists want to be. All the OTHER hours of the day, the shoulder will be much better than now.

Keaau-Pahoa Highway 130 Road Shoulder Lane Conversion Project Starts Monday

The state Department of Transportation advises Hawaii motorists of upcoming lane shifts and temporary closures on Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130) between mile post 2.0 and 4.1 beginning on Monday, August 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., for the duration of the Keaau-Pahoa Road Shoulder Lane conversion project.

Beginning of the project

Beginning of the project

The project spans from Keaau Bypass Road to Shower Drive, a total length of 2.31 miles with a project cost of $15 million. Construction includes two 12ft lanes and an 8ft shoulder lane in the inbound direction and one 12ft lane and a 10ft shoulder lane in the outbound direction. These additions will improve traffic and help with congestion upon completion of this project.

During the construction period, the speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph. Motorists are advised to allow for extra travel time.

Your patience is appreciated as the temporary increased traffic and reduced speed limit will pay off with improved traffic flow on Highway 130. For updates on DOT roadwork, please visit http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/hawaii/

Highway 130 Speed Limit Changing to Reduce Accidents

Highway 130 from Keaau to Pahoa is one of the more dangerous highways in the State.  I’ve documented many accidents that have happened over the last few years but this is only just a few of them that happen each week.

Senator Ruderman sent a request into the State Department of Transportation asking that one of the sections of the highway have it’s speed reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph and the State responded that they will make the changes and put in an order for the signs to be replaced with lower speed limits from Shower Drive to Ainaloa Drive.

Highway 130 Speed

 

Accident at Highway 130 and Maku’u This Afternoon

An accident was just reported at Highway 130 and Maku’u Intersection.

Photo by Kanani Konanui

Photo by Kanani Konanui

Officials Looking at Highway 130 Today

I just drove by Highway 130 and Kapoho Road intersection near Pahoa High and Intermediate School and I noticed a bunch of folks on the side of the road.

H130 Pahoa Map

I parked my car at the school and then crossed the street to ask what they were doing as they were obviously looking at the intersection and many of them had safety vests on.

At first I thought it was all State workers but then I noticed Kevin Dayton from Mayor Kenoi’s Office and I asked him what was going on.

State and County officials were looking at Highway 130 this afternoon.

State and County officials were looking at Highway 130 this afternoon.

Dayton said that the group was looking at the entire 9.5 miles of Highway 130.  He also once again mentioned the round-a-bout at Malama Market intersection and then mentioned something briefly about the Ainaoloa Intersection but I didn’t quite catch what he said.

I’m not sure why the State was looking at the Highway…. AGAIN!

I was with the KPAG group of COMMUNITY MEMBERS that did the Highway tour thing with State Officials a few years ago:  A Field Tweet Down Highway 130

Highway 130 Wreck #2

This was the second car I saw in the Highway 130 wreck today.

It looked like this accident was caused by the previous accident.

Highway 130 Wreck

So this is the first wreck I drove by around 10:00 today on Highway 130.

The red car  is just a police car that arrived on the scene afterwards.  In the next post… you will see a wreck that was just about 5 cars down from this one.

Senator Ruderman Clarifies Communication Made With Local Resident Regarding Highway 130 Lighting

On behalf of Senator Ruderman, we request that a correction to be made to the January 21, 2013 post “Seeing Highway 130 at Night in the Rain – A Community Member Speaks Up.” On January 18, Senator Ruderman did reply to Mr. Banta’s facebook message copied below and attached.

In the reply, Senator Ruderman apologized to Mr. Banta for the delay in replying to his message concerning the dangerous driving conditions faced by his wife at night. Senator Ruderman has been very busy preparing for the 2013 legislative session, but has still made a great effort to respond personally to scores of calls and emails from constituents through official means of contact. It has taken some time for our staff to transition the former campaign facebook account into a formal channel of communication, according to Hawaii State Senate rules, but we will strive for more prompt replies via facebook in the future.

We would greatly appreciate if you could communicate to constituents that the best way to ensure their concerns about District 2 are responded to promptly are to contact Senator Ruderman:

1.       Via email at:  senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov

2.       Toll free telephone at:  974-4000 x66890

3.       By post at:  Senator Russell Ruderman, Hawaii State Capitol, 415 S. Beretania St. Rm. #217, Honolulu HI 96813.

Also, would you kindly share Mr. Banta’s contact information with us so that we are able to directly address his concern directly and update him on our progress on Highway 130?

Mahalo for providing the Big Island community with free press and your assistance in creating clear channels of communication with the constituents of District 2. We appreciate you sharing Senator Ruderman’s SB377 in Bill Introduced to Bring $65 Million for Capital Improvements Projects to Puna Area. If you require any further information on the correction or information on Senator Ruderman and his work, please feel free to contact me directly.

Aloha,

Dayva Keolanui,  Office Manager

Office of Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Senatorial District 2 – Puna-Ka’u

Phone: (808) 586-6890 Fax: (808) 586-6899 d.keolanui@capitol.hawaii.gov

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge