Open Hwy 132 on the Big Island of Hawaii

Open Hwy 132 on the Big Island of Hawaii

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Mary Clawson started this petition to Mayor Harry Kim

My brother, Mark Clawson and my sister-in-law, Oshi Simsarian built their home on the Big Island of Hawaii in the Puna District.  Their home was spared from the lava flows and ground fires that were a result of the Kilauea eruption last summer.  They are living there now, because they are off the grid, but their only access is a 3 mile hike, beginning with a climb over the lava river that closed Hwy 132.  They are making that hike to obtain basic supplies or hiring a helicopter to air lift supplies to them.  Mark shared this post on FaceBook, written by Dane DuPont w/ help from Sarah Wilkinson & Ryan Finlay.  Please read this and then sign my petition to Mayor Harry Kim - he is the Mayor of Hawaii County, and has the power to open the highway to the residents who have no access to their homes or farms.

 

In the 2018 Kilauea eruption over 700 homes were destroyed, and many people lost both their homes and access to their properties. The lava also formed large kīpukas (isolated areas surrounded by a lava flow), each containing a different number of homes. After the eruption ended over 110 additional homes remained standing but were inaccessible due to the loss of local roadways. So far access has only been restored to roughly 25 homes by the county. The largest isolated area contains a 1.86-mile stretch of Hwy 132, and approximately 70 homes that remain without road access almost 7 months after the eruption ended.

On February 5th, 2019, Scott Malis shared a poll on Hawaii Tracker and other Facebook groups asking for opinions about Lower Puna Roads being reopened. The poll included two options supporting reopening the roads—one for residents and one for visitors—and two options related to opposing access restoration. With a total of 734 votes collected, 98.6% of the people polled were in support of reestablishing the Lower Puna highways, signaling overwhelming support for reestablishing the roadways in Puna from residents and visitors alike.

Dane has taken three journeys into the Hwy 132 kīpuka since the eruption ended and found similar, overwhelming support from residents for reestablishing access to the area. It is a unique feeling in the kīpuka; the isolation from the rest of society, the views of the newly established lava delta, and the fire damage in the area from the large July 28 brush fire all combine to create a very unique environment. Vegetation is quickly returning to the fire-damaged areas, however the new lava flows will be a much slower process for plant life to establish itself. Some residents have returned despite a lack of road access, instead climbing through the Fissure 8 lava channel and walking a few miles to their homes. They pack in gas and food with them. Helicopter pilot David Okita has gone above and beyond to help residents of the kīpuka by flying in supplies gathered weekly.

Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) reestablished a road across the Fissure 8 lava channel on private property in early December 2018. Access to PGV was restored fairly quickly once work began, and aside from some malfunctioning equipment there were no major setbacks that delayed the project for prolonged periods. The PGV road is a proof of concept that reestablishing Hwy 132 though the lava channel is theoretically and practically possible at this time.

Mayor Harry Kim has placed a self-imposed temporary moratorium on building projects in the affected area with an arbitrary period of 8 months. Residents are still waiting on the Risk Assessment commissioned by Civil Defense that they were told would be completed back in early January. Everything in terms of recovery is on hold, and there is no clear recovery plan available for the public to review. Mayor Kim has claimed to residents of the Hwy 132 kīpuka that the County does not require an Emergency Proclamation to be in place to construct a temporary road, and that re-establishing Hwy 132 is ‘priority one’. It would be beneficial for the residents Dane has spoken with if these statements turn out to be true, but actions speak much louder than words.

Restoration of 1.5 miles of Hwy 132 would regain access to the largest kīpuka; restoration of an additional 1.6 miles would provide access between this kīpuka and the Four Corners area. In comparison, the inundated section of Hwy 137 already restored by the County was approximately 0.7 miles.

(Note from Ryan Finlay)
It’s clear that the people and community in Puna want Highway 132 reopened so residents can return to their homes. Quite frankly, it’s shameful that the county has not opened this road yet, especially considering how the restoration of Highway 137 to Pohoiki Road was able to be accomplished so quickly once approved.

There is a lot of talk about a housing shortage, but in this situation there are roughly 70 homes already built that are just sitting there. We’re just waiting for a road. Once again, we need the community to come together to make this happen so that our neighbors can go home.

Also, I want to encourage everyone to take close note of who is helping, and who is hindering this road being rebuilt. Look for and support the helpers!

Joint post by Dane DuPont w/ help from Sarah Wilkinson & Ryan Finlay

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!