Saturday | April 18, 2015
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Keauhou harbor improvements underway

It has been nearly two years since a massive earthquake shook Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami there and sending damaging waves to the Kona coastline.

Keauhou Bay was one of the areas hit hardest, and the harbor is still in dire need of repair — a situation that could change as soon as late summer, when state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation officials are anticipating construction to start.

The governor has released $7.8 million to repair and reconstruct infrastructure damaged by the tsunami, of which approximately $548,690 will be used at Keauhou Bay Boat Harbor. The project, which is based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s damage report, includes doing concrete pile, revetment and bulkhead repairs; repaving the loading dock area; filling in the holes by the boat ramp; and debris removal, according to Eric Yuasa and Finn McCall of DOBOR’s Engineering Branch.

FEMA will reimburse the state 75 percent of the actual cost of this project, DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said.

While DOBOR is estimating a summer start, the timing depends greatly on the agency getting a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to relocate coral that’s growing on some of the concrete piles, which have evidence of localized scour below the concrete jackets. DOBOR will have to find an ideal transplant site — one that’s similar to the environment the corals are now in — and it will have to complete a coral mitigation plan, Yuasa said.

Roughly a dozen people attended the public information meeting Monday at the Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club, where DOBOR officials provided an update on the tsunami-related repairs and other general improvements at the Keauhou Bay Small Boat Harbor. Some attendees mentioned areas they would like addressed, such as damaged walkways, docks that are falling apart, and insufficient parking that’s creating safety concerns.

The harbor’s comfort station will eventually get a major facelift that includes putting doors on the stalls, painting the interior, replacing the fixtures, and installing new epoxy flooring. This project is estimated to cost between $15,000 and $20,000, and construction may also start this summer, McCall said.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting were the findings of the survey of Keauhou Bay moorings and locations, conducted in December by consulting firm Sea Engineering. DOBOR plans to replace and standardize the moorings, as well as possibly add more to the bay for a total of 17 moorings. Today, there are nine boats moored here, and each boat uses one or two moorings, Underwood said.

The project’s cost, which includes the hiring of Sea Engineering and mooring installation, is approximately $166,000. Current offshore permit holders have agreed to the use of a two-point mooring system, which would replace the big iron wheels and concrete blocks now being used. The vessel owners, not the state, will be responsible for maintaining the moorings, Underwood said.

The project is still in the design phase, which can take up to six months to complete; preliminary plans are currently being revised, Yuasa said.

Before this project can move forward, an issue pertaining to seven moorings now in the Coast Guard entrance zone must be addressed. No moorings can be in this zone. DOBOR plans to find out actually where the entrance channel is and finalize where the moorings should be, Underwood said.

For more information about these projects, contact the DOBOR West Hawaii district office at 327-3685.