Kawaihae Harbor-North repairs pegged at $8M

  • The wave action over the New Year's holiday damaged the Kawaihae Harbor-North entire loading dock and breached a large section of the breakwater. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • A small boat waits at Kawaihae Harbor-North on Jan. 3. The Kawaihae Harbor-North is closed indefinitely following damage caused by high surf that battered west-facing shores over the New Year’s holiday. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today file)
  • Kawaihae Harbor-North is seen Jan. 3 after being closed indefinitely following damage caused by high surf that battered west-facing shores over the New Year’s holiday. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today file)

KAILUA-KONA — At least $8 million will be needed to repair Kawaihae Harbor-North after the state facility was heavily damaged amid high surf at the turn of the year.

The surf, which pounded west-facing shores New Year’s Eve and Day, breached a 40-foot section of the breakwall and damaged the entire loading dock, forcing the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation to condemn the South Kohala small boat harbor.

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DOBOR Engineer Finn McCall, following a site visit last week, estimated repairs to the breakwater alone will cost $6 million. An additional $2 million will be needed to repair the dock.

“These huge waves traveled across the channel and up underneath the wharf and ended up blowing out all the connections under it, as well has causing wood planks on the wharf to buckle,” Finn stated in a Monday DLNR press release. “It is structurally unsound, so we condemned it.”

In the interim, vessels that docked at the Kawaihae Harbor-North have been moved to either the recently opened Kawaihae Harbor-South or down to Honokohau Harbor in North Kona.

Launch ramps at both Kawaihae Harbor-North and South remain open.

“We have to carefully monitor the north harbor due to the major breach in the break water. It potentially could bring a lot of sand and other deposits in, which could affect the launch ramp which remains open currently, said Meghan Statts, the division’s assistant administrator, who visited the harbor with McCall. “Fortunately, all but one vessel has been moved elsewhere and the remaining boat owner is making plans to move his.”

According to Statts, DOBOR will need to secure capital improvement project funding to make the repairs to Kawaihae Harbor-North. No timeline exists for when that might happen, she said.

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No funding for Kawaihae Harbor-North is included in Gov. David Ige’s supplemental executive budget released on Dec. 16. The state Legislature will take up the budge and other requests during the upcoming session opening Wednesday.

Kawaihae Harbor-South and North are small boat harbors administered by the DLNR, while the main Kawaihae Harbor is administered by the state Department of Transportation.

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