Maui News

“End of the Road” to Close During Emergency Construction

October 21, 2014, 4:49 PM HST
* Updated October 21, 4:52 PM
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"Road Closed" sign. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi.

“Road Closed” sign. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi.

By Maui Now Staff

The iconic “road closed” sign that was stuck in the Chain of Craters Road on Hawaiʻi Island from a 2003 lava flow, will be removed and become a part of park history as crews make way for a new emergency access route, the National Park Service announced today.

Road work beings this Friday, Oct. 24, to establish a new emergency access route for Puna residents who could be cut off from the rest of the island if lava from the June 27, 2014 Kīlauea flow continues on a path towards the ocean.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has been monitoring the flow, which has been slowly approaching the town of Pāhoa, stalling near the Apaʻa Street/Cemetery Road over the weekend, with small outbreak activity reported yeserday.

A bulldozer approaches the boundary at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park last week from the Kalapana side. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

A bulldozer approaches the boundary at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park last week from the Kalapana side. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

US Senator Brian Schatz today announced that a formal agreement has been reached between Hawaiʻi County and the National Park Service to begin construction that will restore Chain of Craters Road to include two lanes of traffic.

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“I am pleased to see construction will soon begin on the expansion of Chain of Craters Road,” said Senator Schatz in a statement this afternoon.  “The two-lane road is critical to the Puna community and will ensure that residents have access to the rest of the Big Island.  I will continue to work with Mayor Kenoi and the National Park Service to ensure construction remains on track and moving forward,” he said.

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According to the National Park Service, the Chain of Craters Road, which opened in 1965, has been covered and blocked by lava for 37 years of its 49-year existence.

According to the NPS, bulldozers graded a 2.2-mile portion of Highway 130 to where it meets the park boundary and becomes Chain of Craters Road. This week, crews will start to grade a 5.4 miles section through the park to the Kalapana boundary, the announcement stated.

Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said the NPS intends to reopen the closed area “as soon as it is safe to do so and the bulldozers move closer to Kalapana.”

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