PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's incredible to see how hard Hawai'i County crews and contractors have worked to clear Railroad Avenue and turn it into an emergency bypass route connecting Leilani Estates to Hawaiian Paradise Park in the event the Puna lava flow crosses Highway 130 -- cutting off residents south of the flow from Kea'au and Hilo.
It is unreal to see what they have accomplished in such a short time! The two-lane crushed gravel road is complete but won't open to the public until the flow reaches the highway. In the meantime, crews are continuing their work along Government Beach Road. The one-lane dirt road being leveled as much as possible -- but is only about 10 feet wide in many spots.
Officials say one of the challenges in the area is ensuring cultural sensitivity by protecting a number of ancestral burial spots along the roadway, which they made every effort to avoid. The road should be compete by this weekend. Crews have also begun work on a third and last alternative emergency route: Chain of Craters Road.
The two-hour detour through Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park will take a few weeks to complete as crews will need to clear about 7 miles of impassable roadway that is currently covered by an old lava flow.
More details tonight in a LIVE report from Puna on HawaiiNewsNow.