In response to community concerns regarding the impact of Ke Ala Hele Makalae, the path that runs by the sea, particularly along the Wailua portion, county and state officials asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study, according to Kauai officials.
The results were released last week, which indicate that the coastal path between Kuamo'o Road and Papalina Road will not significantly alter shoreline erosion in the area. The report noted that the Wailua shoreline has an annual accretion rate of approximately 3.5 inches.
After reviewing photographs taken in early November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works Technical Branch concluded that "the ocean-side edge of the path alignment is located at a sufficient distance away from the existing shoreline."
The report also pointed out that the minimal vertical extent and horizontal footprint of the concrete slabs proposed for the bike path do not present the same potential impacts to coastal processes as typical shore protection structures.
"The latest report from the Corps of Engineers reinforces our belief that we have planned appropriately for the short- and long-term shoreline trends in Wailua,
said Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.
Praising the Department of Public Works, the state Department of Transportation and the Office of the County Attorney, the mayor said that their extensive due diligence ensures that the coastal path is being built in an environmentally sound and culturally sensitive manner.
Work on the Wailua portion of the coastal path is slated to begin on Wednesday, Jan. 2, and is expected to last a little over three months.
Traffic will be impacted by this large-scale project as Kuhio Highway along Wailua Beach will be periodically reduced from three lanes to two during construction. Motorists are encouraged to plan accordingly.
Construction is scheduled as follows, weather permitting:
- Temporary restriping and installation of safety barriers on Kuhio Highway – Jan. 2 to Jan. 11.
- Installation of the multi-use path – Jan. 11 to March 29.
- Permanent restriping of Kuhio Highway – April 1 to 5.
Plans for the Wailua portion of the path were revised in 2009, which moved the path from its original location on the beach to the makai edge of the DOT's right-of-way along Kuhio Highway.
Recent episodic erosion in the area led to further design modifications that allow for the path to be removed if necessary. This resulted in a removable concrete structure with minimum excavation for construction.
Before finalizing plans for the Wailua portion of Ke Ala Hele Makalae, the county engaged in many discussions with Native Hawaiian leaders, representatives of state and federal agencies, experts in coastal land use and cultural archaeology, as well as a broad cross-section of the community.
Additional archaeological testing, which was not required, was conducted at the Mayor’s request during the summer of 2011, to ensure minimal disruption of cultural resources in the area. No traditional Hawaiian or historic artifacts, cultural deposits, or cultural resources were found during the investigation.
The first segment of Ke Ala Hele Makalae was built nearly 10 years ago at Lydgate Beach Park. The Lihi to Kealia section was completed in 2008, and the Kealia to Kuna Bay segment was added in 2010.
Currently, three smaller sections of the multi-use path are underway including: Lihi to Safeway; Papalina Road; and an offshoot of the main path that extends one-half mile from K?hi‘? Highway up Kawaihau Road to Gore Park.
Phase four, which will run from Lydgate Park to Ahukini Landing, and Phase six, N?wiliwili to Ahukini Landing, are going through the environmental assessment process. After the final EA is completed, the next step will be the special management area and Conservation District Use permitting process.
Planning for Phase five, from Kuna Bay to Anahola, has resumed and a consultant has been contracted for the project.
During his inaugural speech titled Holo Holo 2020, Mayor Carvalho spoke about his vision for Kauai in the year 2020, which includes completing all planned segments of Ke Ala Hele Makalae.
The multi-use path is one of 38 projects that are part of the mayor's Holo Holo 2020 vision for Kauai. It calls for all organizations, businesses, residents and visitors on Kauai to be part of creating an island that is sustainable, values the native culture, has a thriving and healthy economy, cares for all -- keiki to kupuna -- and has a responsible and user-friendly local government.