Photo Credit: Tim DelaVega
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Posted on Jul 19, 2018

Historic Flood Event Accelerates Long-Planned Improvements

Repairs and upgrades to make Hāʻena State Park more resilient to future floods, as well as to address public safety and accessibility issues, will begin next week.  A replacement parking lot will be installed with a revised entry to accommodate a long-envisioned shuttle stop. This is an integral part of a desired transportation scheme to alleviate north shore traffic.  Alan Carpenter, Assistant Administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks explained, “Hazardous conditions such as rockfall along the highway exacerbated by the heavy rainfall will be mitigated by the installation of an alternate pedestrian path through the mauka edge of the loʻi system.  We’ll also be repairing the two damaged historic cottages in the park. This will preserve them and create a base of operations for newly authorized park positions dedicated to Nāpali and Hāʻena management.”

The timeline for park repairs and construction is presently estimated to extend into November.  Repairs of the damaged Kalalau Trail, consisting of washed-out trail sections, debris accumulation, and dense vegetation growth obscuring the route, will be initiated soon and it’s hoped to do this work in the same timeframe as the Hāʻena park repairs.

The State Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted State Parks permission to install a gate across Kūhiō Highway within the park to facilitate the park repairs, provide security for construction equipment and supplies, and provide for everyone’s safety.  Following the installation of the gate, unauthorized vehicles will be prohibited but will be allowed to access the portion of the park between Cold Pond and the gate while construction work is ongoing. 

Members of Hui Makaʻainana o Makana remain authorized to enter the park for maintenance purposes under an agreement with State Parks. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case remarked, “We are deeply appreciative of the hui’s kokua through its official curatorship, on-site presence and construction experience.”

State Parks is still in the process of evaluating and initiating repairs on sections of the Kalalau Trail that were seriously compromised and are extremely dangerous currently.  There is no room for error and this is one of the reasons the trail remains closed.  Additionally, due to the damage to the waterline and septic system, water may not be safe to drink and there are no functional bathrooms.  Cottrell concluded, “Our capacity to manage and enforce rules in these parks has been diminished, as staff was redeployed to other parks to help with flood-related damage. We appreciate everyone’s kōkua and patience while we work hard to get these gems of our state park’s system repaired and safe.”

Hāʻena State Park, the adjacent Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park and the popular Kalalau Trail have been closed since the unprecedented flooding in mid-April.  The same storm which caused multiple landslides along Kūhiō Highway, isolating communities beyond Hanalei, severely damaged park infrastructure at Hāʻena and caused significant impacts along the Kalalau Trail.

At Hāʻena, the concrete stream crossing at the parkʻs entrance had an 8-foot wide section washed out along with the waterline servicing the parkʻs comfort station, showers and drinking fountains.  Virtually the entire overflow parking area which was surfaced with crushed coral washed away. The end of the highway at Kēʻē Beach supporting the county lifeguard stand was undermined and partially collapsed.  Large sections of the beach were washed out and some large trees had their root systems affected.  While the parkʻs restrooms survived relatively unscathed, the septic system and constructed wetland were also damaged.