Maui News

$2.9 M Grant Awarded for Replacement of Kaupakalua Bridge Washed Away in March Storm

November 19, 2021, 8:09 AM HST
* Updated November 19, 12:00 PM
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East approach to Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency

A newly awarded $2.9 million federal grant will go towards the construction of a replacement bridge at Kaupakalua, after the original two-lane timber bridge, built around 1911, washed away in a storm event earlier this year.

The project will bring relief to more than 200 rural residents in and around the Haʻikū area of Maui.  With the bridge gone, residents in some 64 homes have had to travel 4-5 miles farther to access services; and emergency responders have to travel longer routes to access the area in an emergency.

West approach to Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency

Though residents were not completely cut off from services, a few minutes can make all the difference in emergency response in a rural community, said Daniel Trexler, project specialist with the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA).

“Kaupakalua Bridge is an important link between communities in Haʻikū,” added Brian Perry, spokesman for Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

To restore that link, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded more than $2.9 million to rebuild the Kaupakalua Bridge to its pre-disaster function and capacity.

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The grant was awarded on Nov. 15 as part of a federal disaster declaration for the flooding, which damaged bridges, roads and homes and overtopped the Kaupakalua Dam in March of 2021.  On March 8, 2021, the storms eroded an existing drainage channel upstream of Kaupakalua Bridge, causing the bridge to wash away.

  • Upstream of Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • Upstream of Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • East approach to Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • West approach to Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • Damaged Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • Damaged Kaupakalua Bridge. PC: courtesy Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
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The project will remove the existing concrete pier footing and restore the bridge deck and superstructure by installing a pre-engineered steel truss bridge that meets the standards for a 100-year flood event. The construction also will restore the east and west bridge approaches and add a retaining wall to match the new bridge deck elevation.

The Kaupakalua Bridge project is the result of close collaboration among the County of Maui Public Works Department, HI-EMA, and FEMA in the ongoing recovery effort.

“HI-EMA would like to thank FEMA and the County of Maui for their efforts as the community continues to recover from the severe weather experienced last March,” Trexler said.

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