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Hawaii engineers favor relocating Hawaii island’s Pohoiki Boat Ramp as cheaper option

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    An engineer evaluated Pohoiki Bay recently as Sea Engineering Inc. studied possible solutions for the bay’s now-landlocked boat ramp. State officials said today that the engineers recommend building a new boat ramp, rather than excavating a new channel through the new black-sand beach, which was created after last year’s Kilauea eruption.

Engineers have recommended that building a new boat ramp, rather than excavating a new channel through the black-sand beach, is a less costly alternative for Pohoiki Bay in Lower Puna, state officials said today.

The Kilauea eruption last year spared the boat ramp, but lava flows blocked it off with what is now a new, 200-foot-wide black-sand beach.

Although Isaac Hale Beach Park, also known as Pohoiki Beach Park, reopened to the public in early December after being closed for six months, the boat ramp remains landlocked.

In a 32-page report following a site visit on May 1, Sea Engineering Inc., told the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation that reopening the Pohoiki Boat Ramp would require a channel be excavated through the new beach and maintained by jetties.

The estimated cost to restore the boat ramp, including the jetties, would be about $37.9 million, more than twice the estimated cost of building a new boat ramp at “Malama Flats,” an alternative site just south of MacKenzie State Recreation Area.

In addition, there would still be uncertainties associated with sand movement in and around Pohoiki Bay, officials said.

The estimated cost of building a boat ramp at Malama Flats would be about $14.5 million, they said. It would include the excavation of a 295-foot-long, 100-foot-wide entrance channel that is 6 feet deep. The cost includes a concrete boat launch ramp, approach pad and walkway, along with a lava rock retaining wall and access road, officials said.

They said that building a boat ramp anywhere along the Lower Puna coast would be challenging thanks to rocky sea cliffs, deep water close to shore and no natural wave protection. Engineers said the coastline is exposed to high seas and potential damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.

Ed Underwood, DOBOR administrator, said constructing a new ramp at an alternate site would be a more straightforward project, and that Malama Flats appears to offer reasonable conditions for it, but that more information is still needed about the area.

To pursue building a boat ramp, the state would need secure funding for the project from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, then obtain permits and hold public hearings, officials said.

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