Legislatively Speaking: 04-15-19

As your state representative, I am responsible for passing laws and the state budget in the Legislature. I am also responsible for keeping track of projects relating to state facilities, like highways and harbors.

Today’s article provides an update on the projects involving North Hawaii’s small boating facilities, which play a crucial role in facilitating ocean access for our community. DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), which manages these facilities, currently has several important projects underway at the Kawaihae and Puako small boat harbors.


At North Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor, barrier construction and sand dredging at the launch ramp has been completed. The new barriers are designed to reduce sand and sediment flow into the harbor, in the hopes of reducing the frequency of dredging in the future. Mahalo to contractor Alton Oye and his team for their hard work and extra effort to coordinate with fishing tournaments and paddlers to complete this important project!

The next project ahead at North Kawaihae is paving and drainage improvements, including a new shower. The existing shower was removed because it was draining directly into the ocean, which poses water quality and pollution concerns. In March, the governor officially released $1.1 million in state CIP funds for the design and construction of this project; permitting and planning are now underway.

Breakwater repairs are also ahead for North Kawaihae. This work will include relocation and damage mitigation for corals growing inside the harbor. Planning, design, and preliminary permitting work for this project is ongoing under a contract with Oceanit. In the coming year, DOBOR will apply for funding for these repairs, at an estimated construction cost of $4 million.

At South Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor, construction for a new boat ramp is scheduled to begin on April 19. This project has been contracted with Healy Tibbitts Builders, and involves the construction of a 45-foot-wide boat ramp with 5-foot-wide loading docks on either side, and connection of the boat ramp to the existing harbor access road. Once the ramp is completed, roving patrols from the DOT Harbors division will help provide security in the area. The estimated date of completion for this project is December 2019.

Although bathrooms at South Kawaihae have been completed, they currently lack adequate water pressure to support public use. Plans are now in place to install water lines connecting the bathrooms to the Kawaihae Road water main to resolve this issue. DOBOR estimates this project will be completed and the bathrooms open by December 2019.

The nonprofit Jupiter Research Foundation has filed a Draft Environmental Assessment for a proposed Marine Science Center and boat storage facility at South Kawaihae. This Draft EA is available for public comment until April 22. To view and comment on the EA, please visit http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/EA_EIS_Library/2019-03-23-HA-DEA-Marine-Science-Center-at-Kawaihae-Harbor.pdf.

The long-term plan for in-water development at South Kawaihae is limited by recent coral growth in the northwestern portion of the harbor. Because, by federal law, displaced corals must be relocated or replaced, expanding the number of boat slips at South Kawaihae would be extremely costly. As an alternative, DOBOR has considered installing additional offshore moorings within South Kawaihae SBH; however, they have yet to determine the best way to move forward. I will keep you updated regarding the long-term plan for South Kawaihae as it develops.


Just a few miles to the south, the Puako boat ramp is also slated for improvements, including resurfacing the existing asphalt access road and parking area, paving the existing gravel parking area, and moving the boat wash area mauka with drainage improvements so that boat wash runoff does not flow into the ocean. This project has been contracted with Isemoto Contracting, and permitting with the county is currently underway. If permitting moves forward according to plan, construction at the ramp should begin in May.

I am working with DOBOR to continue tracking these projects and look forward to keeping you updated as they move forward. If you have questions about these projects or any bills under consideration at the Legislature, please reach out to my office at 586-8510; we are always happy to assist you. Mahalo!

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