POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2013
HILO >> State transportation officials are proposing $128 million in improvements at Kawaihae Harbor to meet an anticipated increase in cargo volumes over the next 20 years.
The state Department of Transportation has filed a draft environmental assessment for the project, but it doesn’t set out a timeline, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
The draft assessment says harbor needs should be addressed within the next 15 years and that terminal operations should be enhanced to accommodate increased volume. No timetable has been set to start construction or secure funding. The draft also prioritizes suggestions made in the 2035 harbor master plan, which was recently completed.
“Terminal operations must be enhanced to accommodate a doubling of potential volumes,” the assessment states.
Work to be completed would include internal road improvements, security fencing, dedicating land for a south small-boat harbor, relocating the Hawaii District Office, reconstruction and extension of Pier 2-A by 340 feet, lengthening the Pier 2-C extension by 325 feet and dredging Pier 2-C.
The plan is to accommodate up to five barges at once at the harbor. Additional incoming cargo will also mean more gate traffic.
“Traffic backups will become an increasing problem if improvements are not made,” the environmental assessment states.
Improvements would also address food security concerns and will call for more covered storage and refrigeration units to reduce the potential of spoiled food. The master plan calls for the state Department of Agriculture to build a facility to inspect, quarantine and treat goods arriving at and leaving the harbor.
DOT officials expect the environmental assessment to receive a finding of no significant impact because construction would take place in an area already developed. The public has until Aug. 22 to submit comments.