Iao Park to Reopen

Iao park to reopen Wednesday

by The Maui News | Published November 18, 2017


Iao Valley State Monument will reopen Wednesday, almost four weeks ahead of schedule, following the completion of the second phase of slope stabilization of the Wailuku River, which raged following heavy rains in September 2016, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Friday.

The massive flood that widened the streambed, eroded the high slopes along the stream and damaged the lower portions of the park forced the monument’s shutdown through August. The DLNR Division of State Parks closed the park again Oct. 16 to continue stabilization of the slopes, part of which form the edge of the park’s parking lot. The park was expected to reopen by Dec. 16.

Although the second phase has been completed, the state Parks Division will continue to assess how the repairs hold up during the rainy season, the DLNR said. The department will be seeking more money to complete repairs around the monument with public safety and preservation of the park and surrounding natural resources the primary goals.

Still closed is the lower large loop trail that previously ran along the stream, which sustained severe damage during the flood. Although it was cleaned up, the trail will remain fenced off and closed to the public while the Parks Division considers options for making it safe, the DLNR said.

The Hawaiian garden also sustained damage; a section of its walkway collapsed into the stream. New security fencing has been installed to keep people away from the cliff’s edge, the DLNR said.

Iao Valley State Monument is among the top attractions on Maui and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The 2016 flash flood caused millions of dollars in damage to man-made structures like railings and pedestrian bridges, created major erosion and changed the streambed and surrounding landscape.

The Parks Division obtained emergency restoration funding and began cleanup and restoration work within weeks of the flood. Contractor Vares Contracting began work Feb. 13 to remove green waste, concrete debris and railings. Maui Kupono Builders performed interim slope stabilization in the Wailuku River building a revetment of stacked rocks and installing 300 to 400 feet of Shotcrete slope coating to prevent loose material from falling down.

The total cost of the projects was $1.8 million.

Changes to the parking lot included restriping and installation of flexible traffic delineators, as well as installation of a green security guardrail fencing at various locations to keep buses only within the upper parking area. Warning signs were put up to prevent people from getting close to the stream’s edge.

A pedestrian corridor was marked with striping, and surface repairs were made to the pathways leading to the Hawaiian garden and to the summit lookout. The park comfort station and upper lookout hale have been painted.

Maui Kupono Builders also put in a new support structure to the pedestrian bridge over Kinihapai Stream.

“This project was also accomplished ahead of schedule — virtually unheard of in state construction projects — even with a temporary setback due to high stream volume during part of the mitigation work,” state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said.

“These improvements and repairs were critically necessary to stabilize the streamside slope to protect the parking area and vehicular access for park users,” he added.

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