Hawaii's Most Endangered Historic Places
Each year, we look for our state’s most endangered historic places through a partnership with the Historic Hawaii Foundation and the State Historic Preservation Division. The list is a call to action, but it’s also a way to appreciate the hidden treasures of our built environment. This year we see Kapahulu Avenue with new eyes, imagine the way plantation workers gathered in the 1900s and consider—if only for a moment—if an ugly building is worth saving.
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What threatens it?
The bridge was last repaired in 1965 and, today, the wooden structure is badly rotted. In 2006, the county closed the bridge, citing safety concerns. Since then, the community has organized a restoration effort: In 2008, it was put on the state register of historic places, and, in 2010, the county of Kauai agreed to a preliminary engineering report for restoration.
The news wasn’t good. “The vast majority of the wooden structure was in very poor condition and there was little that could be salvaged. The recommendation was therefore made to rebuild the entire wooden portion of the bridge,” says Kauai County engineer Larry Dill.
The proposed restoration would alter the look of the bridge, because it includes parking areas on each side of the bridge, a switchback ramp for wheelchair access and other modernization.
What can be done?
In August, Dill announced the county would restore the bridges’ two towers, buying the community about five years to raise the funds necessary to restore the entire bridge and work out the details of its physical restoration.
“Maintenance neglect and resistance from county leaders created the dilemma we have struggled with for the past five years,” says Laraine Moriguchi, director of the group Save Kapaia Swinging Bridge. “The administration’s willingness to at least stabilize the bridge by replacing the two towers was a welcome surprise,” she said. Though the County Council appropriated $230,000 for the restoration, only $80,000 will be used to replace the towers.
“It would be wonderful if they would use the remainder to finish the bridge restoration,” Moriguchi said. The group plans to keep the pressure on to move restoration plans forward.
Updates: A Look Back at Past Endangered Places