Emergency route to be built in case lava flow covers major road

Courtesy USGS

The National Park Service announced Monday that it will work with the State and County of Hawaii to construct an emergency route along the former Chain of Craters Road to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava covers Highway 130.

Scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimated on Sept. 19 that based on the flow’s location and rate of advancement at that time, lava from Kilauea Volcano’s Puu O’o vent could reach Highway 130 in 21 days – but noted as of Monday, the lava flow advance rate has slowed.

The route, mostly within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, would provide emergency access for the community and would not be open for visitor use.

Nearly eight miles of the coastal section of Chain of Craters Road is buried beneath rough, hardened lava, and 5.4 miles is within the national park.

The open section of Chain of Craters Road spans 19 miles from the summit of Kīlauea to sea level within the park.

To protect park resources, the emergency route will follow the old lava-covered road alignment as much as practicable.

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