More road options considered for Hawaii lava flow

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2014 4:32 PM

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Officials on Hawaii's Big Island are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help with solutions for the possibility of lava covering a major highway.

Hawaii County officials said they are asking whether something could be constructed — possibly a temporary span over the flowing lava.

The county also is looking at the possibility of removing a portion of the highway before the lava arrives, which is estimated to be weeks or more away, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday (http://ow.ly/BW2wc ).

Scientists about a month ago began warning the public of the approaching lava from Kilauea volcano, which is threatening communities in the island's rural and isolated Puna district.

The lava has slowed in recent days. The flow front remained stalled Thursday, but a breakout above continues to move and had advanced about 70 yards since the previous day, Hawaii County Civil Defense said in an online update. The breakout remains farther upslope and to the north and doesn't pose an immediate threat to communities, the notice said.

Officials continue to worry that if lava covers Highway 130, residents will be cut off from the rest of island.

Workers have been preparing two defunct roads to be used as alternate routes. Civil Defense said the electricity company is installing power poles on the two alternate roads. There also are plans to open a path through a nearly 8-mile stretch of Chain of Craters Road that has been covered by lava in the past.

Removing part of Highway 130 probably would not affect the lava's direction, but doing so would prevent it from pooling along the road. County officials say they do not want to divert the lava because doing so would simply threaten other communities.

While no evacuations have been ordered, some residents are deciding whether to relocate.

Rob and Tia Yagi said they found a house to rent in Hilo, but they still will have to pay the mortgage on their Puna home. With a 2-month-old son, they don't want to take any chances. They're not worried about losing their home to the lava, Tia Yagi said.

Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, "can have all she wants as long as I have my family," she said.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/