Update 6/21/21: Makaha Bridge, Free Wi-Fi

GREAT NEWS! DOT APPLYING FOR GRANT TO REALIGN FARRINGTON HIGHWAY MAUKA AT MAKAHA BEACH; DOT TO PROVIDE FREE WIFI AND DEVICES TO NANAKULI & WAIANAE RESIDENTS; AND MAKAHA BRIDGE VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING TO BE HELD JUNE 23

In response to community concerns, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) plans to apply for a RAISE grant for the Makaha Surfing Beach highway realignment project, which would move the highway further mauka behind the canoe halau and bathroom. DOT estimates that the realignment will cost approximately $75m. They will hopefully know if the grant is approved by around the end of the year.

HDOT Deputy Director-Highways Division Ed Sniffen clarified that the realignment of the highway and the bridge construction are mutually exclusive, and pursuing one will not prohibit the other. In fact, repairing the existing wooden bridges, which are anticipated to last only another two years, will be needed even if the highway is realigned. This is because the existing highway would likely be transitioned into a county beach road if the highway is realigned mauka behind the comfort station.

As the community requested, there will be no temporary bypass during the construction of the bridge, which they anticipate to start in September and complete in around 9 months. HDOT will just close one lane at a time during construction rather than construct a temporary bypass. HDOT will install a steel bridge rather than use concrete, thus the cost of the project should be reduced to around $15m rather than $25m, and the life span of the bridge should be around 30 years.

HDOT is working with Waianae High School students on a project based learning project focused on Makaha Surfing Beach. Components of the students’ project include the bridges, highway realignment, sand replenishment, muliwai, and other issues. To provide further information about the Makaha Bridge project, HDOT is holding a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 to discuss planned adjustments to the replacement of Makaha Bridge No. 3 and 3A on Farrington Highway.

The virtual public meeting will be held using Microsoft Teams. Meeting information is as follows:

  • Meeting starts Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Click here for meeting link: https://hidot.hawaii.gov/…/virtual-public-meeting-on…/Or join by calling 1-808-829-4853 and entering Conference ID: 160 376 080#
  • If you need an auxiliary aid/service or other accommodation due to a disability, contact makahabridges@qr-se.com as soon as possible. Requests made as early as possible will allow adequate time to fulfill your request.

Upon request, this notice is available in alternate formats such as large print, Braille, or electronic copy.

Written comments may be submitted to makahabridges@qr-se.com through June 25.

Planned adjustments to the design are:

  • Use of a pre-fabricated steel bridge instead of a concrete bridge. The change in structure will allow for reduced construction time and better reflects future plans to realign the highway.
  • Elimination of the temporary bypass road. This minimizes the private land acquisitions needed for construction access.

The existing bridges were built in 1937 and are currently ranked as the top two priority bridges in need of upgrade or repair on the State Highways system. Replacement of the bridges does not preclude future realignment of Farrington Highway. Rather, it ensures that residents west of the bridge sites will have continued, safe, access to the highway.

HDOT TO PROVIDE FREE WIFI AND DEVICES TO NANAKULI & WAIANAE RESIDENTS

If we’ve learned anything in the pandemic, it’s that access to broadband — that digital superhighway — affects everyone. So how do we help people work or learn from home? One answer already in the works is a pilot project from the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) to help more people connect to the internet, even if they don’t have their own service provider. HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen is preparing a state-managed WiFi system especially to help rural communities. The project will focus on eight areas: Kalihi, Kapa‘a, Wai‘anae, Nanakuli, Waimānalo, Kau, Puna and Hana. “We’re using the backbone of our state highways and county roadways to extend wireless into underserved neighborhoods,” explained Sniffen. “From my perspective, Wi-Fi is like electricity now. You can’t live without it; you have to have it.”

Access to broadband will be a key part of growing the state’s tech industry. The pilot project, to get under way around this summer, will provide WiFi access to two people per household, devices if needed, and a staffed help desk. Improved wireless mesh connectivity will also be used to increase the efficiency and safety of the state’s highway system and lay the foundation for Hawai‘i to become a test site for connected autonomous vehicles. “The pandemic, when so many people had to operate virtually, made this a huge priority for the state and the federal side as well,” said Sniffen. “Everybody’s aligned to make sure broadband is front and center. We want to make sure we make the most of this opportunity because it’s the key to our next industry for the future.” Federal transportation and broadband funding will be leveraged to pay for the construction and operation of the pilot system.

For more information, visit: hidot.hawaii.gov