Hawaii’s historic Nānue and Hakalau stream bridges are set to undergo major renovations to boost their structural integrity and to avoid costly temporary repairs and maintenance.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $74 million in grants to both projects from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program, which supports government efforts to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of multimodal freight and highway projects.
The federal funding will be matched by $50 million Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) funds as part of the Hawaii Belt Road Bridges Rehabilitation Project. The total estimated cost for both projects is $124 million.
The Nānue and Hakalau bridges are integral components of the transportation network along the Hāmākua Coast. They connect Hilo, the island’s largest port city and economic center, with populated areas to the north along Hawaii’s historic Māmalahoa Highway, commonly known as the Hawaii Belt Road, or Route 19.
The Nānue Stream Bridge, standing at 531 feet long, 286 feet above Nānue Stream, is the tallest bridge on the Island of Hawaii. A comprehensive rehabilitation is planned, with construction expected to begin in early 2025 at an estimated cost of $43 million.
The Hakalau Stream Bridge crosses 261 feet above the Hakalau Stream with a length of 775 feet. It will undergo foundation replacements and deck rehabilitation. Construction on the $81 million project is scheduled to start in mid-2025.
Rehabilitating the early 20th Century steel girder-and-trestle structures is not just a matter of maintenance; it’s a question of connectivity. Without these bridges, the only transportation alternative would be a 200-mile detour, underscoring the urgent need for their repair and modernization.
The renovations will enhance the bridges’ resilience against severe weather, ensuring they can endure hurricanes, intense rains and floods, while also securing a dependable route for emergency evacuations, a key issue in the wake of last year’s Maui fires.
Projects funded by the INFRA program are intended to improve the movement of freight and people. Its funding increased by more than 50% by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
To see what other projects are being funded by INFRA, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation’s INFRA Awards 2023 – 2024.
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Photo by Anokarina