Waiahole Bridge okay for now, but it and others need work

Published: Jun. 7, 2011 at 10:32 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 8, 2011 at 12:06 AM HST
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By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

WAIAHOLE (HawaiiNewsNow) – A state inspection of the Waiahole Bridge on Kamehameha Highway in Windward Oahu Tuesday showed it is safe to use and not in danger of falling into the Waiahole Stream. The Waiahole Bridge is one of 34 bridges around Hawaii the state Department of Transportation hopes to rehabilitate or rebuild during the next five years at an estimated expense of $350 million dollars.

Area residents were concerned Monday when they saw cracks in the Waiahole Bridge. The bridge was hit with flood water and debris during the weekend.

"There were cracks there before. We're not sure if those cracks got a little larger or if they are the exact same, but they weren't a surprise to us. And just because there are cracks in the concrete doesn't mean that the bridge is not structurally sound. It is," said Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

The Washing D.C. based group Transportation for America ranked Hawaii's bridges 19th worst in the country. It claims 12.4% of Hawaii's 1,135 bridges (state, city, and private) are "structurally deficient." It defines a structurally deficient bridge as a bridge that "requires significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement." It does not say they should not be used or are unsafe.

'If any of these bridges were a danger to the community, we would shut them down right away," Meisenzahl added.

The state is almost finished building a new bridge over the North Kahana Stream on Kamehameha Highway on Windward Oahu. The federal government paid 80% of the $13.3 million cost.

A new bridge over the Punaluu Stream on Windward Oahu is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The federal government is paying the entire $16.3 million for that bridge.

"The danger always is that because new construction is sexier than maintenance that maintenance money gets sucked away for that purpose (for new construction). States and localities these days are very much strapped for resources and one of the first things that goes is maintenance, so the federal government really has to do its part," said David Goldberg, spokesperson for Transportation for America.

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