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Kealakaha Stream Bridge replacement completed

Construction of the replacement bridge utilized ACROW bridges and lifting jacks, seen here in May 2009, to lower pre-cast concrete girders into place, connecting the two sides of the 645-foot bridge span. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)

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The state Department of Transportation (DOT), along with federal and county officials, legislators and contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc., have dedicated the new Kealakaha Stream Bridge in a ceremony in Ookala.

The new bridge replaces the original Kealakaha Stream Bridge, constructed in 1935, and improves traffic capacity, highway safety and seismic stability to meet current standards. Eighty percent of the $38 million construction cost was federally funded with the remaining 20 percent paid for by state highway funds.

“Spanning nearly 650 feet over a 200-foot drop to the valley floor below, it was very important to bring this 75-year-old bridge up to modern seismic standards,” said Brennon Morioka, state DOT Director. “The replacement bridge will help to ensure that this vital corridor between Hilo and Waimea will remain open in the event of future earthquakes.”

Twice as wide as the original steel truss bridge, the high-strength concrete replacement bridge provides larger lane widths and 10-foot-wide shoulder lanes, improving traffic safety for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

The new design also reduces the road curvature created by the former bridge, making for a straighter, safer path.

These improvements will help to ensure that traffic capacity can be maintained for the estimated 6,900 vehicles that use the bridge daily.

Construction by contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc. began in February 2007.

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