Article Written By: Katrina Valcourt, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
THis is one of the last remaining timber bridges in the Hawaii state highway system, according to the State Historic Preservation Division’s files. Built in 1940 by engineer William R. Bartels, the 60-foot historic bridge carries Mamalahoa Highway over Ninole Strea. Though 76 years ole, its wooden columns and railings remain structurally sound, but it’s not wide enough for modern transportation needs and does not match other bridges in the system.
What threatens it?
THe Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Highway Division and the state Department of Transportation have proposed a replacement bridge that would be able to accommodate larger vehicles and be safer. The project overview states that, as of Setp. 1 the final Environmental Assessment is being prepared, maps are being reviewed and the project is almost 100-percent designed. Funding, however, hasn’t been acquired yet.
What can be done?
Because the bridge is eligible for the Hawaii Register of Historic Places, someone can nominate it to the state register without having to get the Department of Transportation’s permission (this is not the case for sites nominated to the national register). Being listed on the register wouldn’t guarantee its protection, but the State Historic Preservation Division would have to review the demolition first and could ask for other proposals to be considered.
The current proposal calls for a temporary bridge to be constructed next to the current one whole the new bridge is being built. If the temporary bridge were built as the permanent replacement, the original bridge could remain for pedestrians and bicyclists.