- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The Hawaii County Council has voted to borrow up to $20 million to pay for emergency roadwork to cope with the Puna lava flow.

The projects would create alternate routes for residents if lava crosses Highway 130, which is the only route in and out of the Puna district. The council must vote on the general obligation bonds once more to approve them, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1w46E4T ).

In addition to covering future costs, the bonds will help replenish highways funds tapped to get the projects going immediately, said county Finance Director Deanna Sako. They will also cover bond anticipation notes already issued for the projects, she said.

The projects are eligible for 75 percent reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sako said she hopes to hear soon from FEMA regarding federal assistance.

“In the meantime, we do have costs we have to cover,” she told the council.

The money would cover building Railroad Avenue and improvements to Government Beach Road. It would also cover the reconstruction of a route from Kalapana into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The bond could cover other capital projects related to the lava flow, including repairs to public facilities damaged by lava, Sako said.

Fixing Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road were estimated to cost $3 million together.

County Public Works Director Warren Lee said Tuesday the Chain of Craters alternate route from Kalapana into the park might cost $10 million to $12 million by the time it’s completed early next month. It initially was expected to cost up to $15 million.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/


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