The current Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor (South) access road is seen. (DLNR/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Road and waterline system improvements are moving closer to fruition at the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor in South Kohala.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation recently released a final environmental assessment for the project that will widen the existing coral access road to 24 feet, pave it and stripe it; make intersection improvements at the road’s terminus with Kawaihae Road; and install two new potable waterlines.

The DLNR gave the project a finding of no significant impact. The division estimated the work at the south small boat harbor will cost $2.5 million and take approximately nine months to complete, according to the draft assessment.

The project, which comprises the second phase of improvements at the harbor following some $4.7 million in floating dock, ramp, mooring and berthing stall improvements that got underway this summer, was included in the 2003 Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor Master Plan. The plan is a means to satisfy the public and commercial need for a modern small boat harbor.

The 24-foot-wide roadway, which will consist of a 3-inch-think layer of asphalt concrete and 6-inch deep layer of aggregate base course, would more or less follow the existing alignment of the coral access road between the commercial harbor and facilities of the south small boat harbor. At the road’s intersection with Kawaihae Road, the state is looking to make improvements that include pavement curves for driver comfort and vehicular maneuverability, as well as mark the pavement with a standard double-yellow lines and white “stop” bars.

To accommodate surface drainage after paving, the state said it will construct the road with a slope to direct it toward the edges where 5-foot-wide earthen swales will convey the drainage to drywells, which will naturally remove soils and debris in runoff.

The two new potable water lines, one that will be 8 inches in diameter and the other 4 inches in diameter, will connect to a 12-inch water line located along Akoni Pule Highway. The lines will be buried and run parallel to the proposed roadway improvements. Placement of the lines would require the state to trench up to 4 feet deep.

The division also recently completed an archaeological inventory survey at the request of the State Historic Preservation Division, which expressed concern in fall 2013 that the prior fill process may have covered historic properties and burial sites. The survey is currently under review.

“Several test pits were excavated down to the water table or sterile sediments along an area near the roadway alignment, which focused on the former (1933) shoreline. No finds were encountered during the AIS—nothing on the surface or in any of the trenches,” the final EA reads. “No further archaeological work is recommended.”

According to the assessment, no rare or threatened species use the project area as a critical habitat, though green sea turtles do feed in the harbor area, which will not be affected by the proposed work. The state also anticipates the project will not affect the population or critical habitats of the threatened Newell’s shearwater and Hawaiian petrel.

The small boat harbor entrance channel and west breakwater were completed in the 1950s, according to the assessment. In mid-1998, following an Environmental Impact Statement and reduction of the harbor’s scope from housing 300 boats to 90 boats because of social and economic concerns, an extension of the west breakwater with a revetted mole, and the construction of an east revetted mole with a connecting breakwater was completed. A master plan was subsequently completed in 2003 for the small boat harbor’s future.

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By Chelsea Jensen
West Hawaii Today