Work started on emergency route in case of lava flow

(Courtesy County of Hawaii Civil Defense)

Surveying work is underway to prepare Chain of Craters Road as a possible emergency route out of Hawaii Island’s lower Puna district in case the lava flow obstructs other roadways.

From a news conference call from Hawaii Island Friday afternoon, bulldozers are on the scene at the road, preparing for the possibility that lava may cross Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road, the other emergency roads being considered in case Highway 103 is blocked due to the flow.

With funding help of the federal government, Chain of Craters Road would become a 22-foot wide road that would accommodate two-way traffic. Seven-to-eight miles of road needs to be worked on. The cost of the project is in the range of $7-10 million and there will be some form of federal reimbursement.

The project will last anywhere from 45 to 60 days, although the pace of work can be ramped up in case the lava flow moves faster.

To help with getting federal funding for the road project, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz were at the weekly community meeting Thursday night at Pahoa High School.

Gabbard also took an aerial tour of Chain of Craters Road on Friday morning, looking at all other possible routes out of Puna, including Highway 130, Railroad Avenue and Old Government Road.

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