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Kawela Bridge Dedication Ceremony

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Photo by Bianca Moragne.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) celebrated the completion of the Kawela Stream Bridge Replacement Project last Wednesday with a dedication ceremony on Molokai’s Kamehameha V Highway.

State-contracted construction company Goodfellow Bros., Inc. Assistant Regional Manager Todd Svetin said he pursued a career in construction for the sense of pride he feels when a project, like the replacement of the Kawela Bridge, is completed.

“Everyone involved in this project should feel that same pride,” Svetin said. “…I’d like to thank the Molokai residents and neighboring property owners for their patience during the construction.”

According to the DOT, the $6 million project replaced the original bridge, constructed in 1940, with a new bridge that meets modern standards. The new bridge provides 10-foot shoulders on either side for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s also two feet higher, providing additional capacity for water flow for the Kawela Stream beneath. The streambed underneath has been lined with concrete to protect the banks from erosion and to facilitate maintenance.

Construction was necessary to address stream flows that damaged and flooded the area and neighboring properties, Svetin said.

“The Kawela Stream has seen several incidents of flooding during heavy rains in the past two decades that cut off eastside residents from the rest of the island and this new bridge will help to address that,” said Ford Fuchigami, DOT interim director.  “We want to thank the Molokai community for their patience during the construction.”

DOT Deputy Director for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Projects Jadine Urasaki read a letter from Sen. J. Kalani English during the ceremony. In his letter, English said Molokai shouldn’t be forced to shoulder the burden of inadequate bridges.

“What the community is witnessing today is more than simply another construction project, rather this is a reflection of our government’s commitment to a better quality of life for our residents,” English said in his letter. “Whatever economic challenges our state may be facing at this moment, none of us should underestimate the power and necessity of continuing to invest in our community.”

The ceremony closed with a blessing by Kahu Claude Duvauchelle, from Ierusalema Pomaikai Church, who first blessed the job site when the project began two years ago. The blessing was followed by state and federal dignitaries untying a ceremonial maile lei to officially dedicate the new bridge.

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