The Reed’s Island bridge in Hilo was closed Monday, marking the start of an approximately nine-month renovation project.
The bridge on Kaiulani Street was the only means of accessing the neighborhood next to the Wailuku River since it was completed in 1899.
It’s considered structurally deficient, and is unable to support the weight of fire trucks.
To improve its strength, contractor ABHE and Svodoba Inc. is replacing the wooden surface with steel beams and decking, adding concrete anchors to the foundation and installing lateral bracing.
The company was awarded the $6.4 million contract last summer. Some preliminary work began late last year.
The bridge is expected to be closed until October. In the meantime, a detour has been set up over private land off Kahema Street.
About 40 homes are located on Reed’s Island, and residents held a party on Sunday to celebrate the start of the project.
Larry Heintz, a member of the neighborhood hui, said residents are trying to make the best of the closure.
The gathering resembled a block party, he said, with prizes offered for who could answer questions about the bridge, including how many planks are on its deck.
The answer: 168.5.
“We had a good time,” Heintz said.
He said he recalls the project first being discussed in the late 1980s and is glad to see work getting started.
“We’ve had about 20 years of preparation; we ought to be able to put up with it,” Heintz said of the closure.
Gary Andersen, owner of Shipman Bed and Breakfast, said he is most concerned about noise.
The B&B is located next to the bridge, and the rattling sound of machinery could be heard in the gulch below.
“So far, it’s been pretty good,” he said. “They are not starting too early.”
On the plus side, Andersen said, the house is now located at the end of the street due to the detour and doesn’t see as much traffic.
The guests are being notified of the construction, he said, and he expressed concern over the length of the project.
“It just seems like quite a bit of time for a small bridge,” Andersen said.
The project will increase the bridge’s load rating from 6 tons to 20 tons.
The state Department of Transportation is covering 80 percent of the project’s cost. The county is covering the rest.