Kawainui Restoration And Surrounding Roadwork

Thielen’s Turf…State Sen. Cynthia Thielen

Two big reconstruction projects — one in the nat- ural environment, the other manmade — are getting the attention of Kailua residents.

I’ve received many of your calls and emails asking, “What’s going on at Kawainui Marsh?” You might have noticed workers using earthmovers and other heavy equipment to clear invasive plants, dig ponds, drill wells, and otherwise toil to restore 37 acres of this precious wet- land. Now that much of the invasive plant growth and other debris has been cleared, the view of this 830-acre wetland habitat has opened up to those passing by on Kailua Road/Pali Highway.

The Kawainui Marsh Environmental Restoration Project is expected to be completed soon. This ambitious and necessary project — using mostly federal money — will provide a habitat in which Hawaii’s endangered waterfowl can flourish. It also will create more open space for human visitors to enjoy, and protect delicate nearby reefs from runoff.

Many Kailuans might not realize that the marsh also protects thou- sands of homes from flooding.

This restoration is the result of decades of collaboration among Windward residents, community groups and government officials and agencies at all levels. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting the work, in partnership with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife division.

Meanwhile, on the Kaneohe Bay side of the marsh, Mokapu Boulevard has been the focus of a road-improvement project that also has prompted numerous calls and emails. Many of you are understandably unhappy to see crews repaving sections of the boulevard that were repaved as recently as 2008, while other sections of the same road are in terrible shape, rattling nerves as well as car suspensions as drivers do their best to dodge potholes and maneuver around mounds of asphalt.

The state Department of Transportation says the earlier resurfacing of Mokapu was a “quick fix,” and that the current project is intended to fix underlying structural problems. While the DOT agrees that Saddle Road — that section of the boulevard between Kapa‘a Quarry and the H- 3 freeway — needs extensive repairs, it also said that project is still in the design stage.

Like many of you, I believe the DOT should have fixed Saddle Road first. I am working to get the DOT to put Saddle Road at the top of its “to- do” list. If you want to help, you can call the DOT at 587-2220, fax 587-2340 or write to the Highways Administrator, 869 Punch- bowl St. #513, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Call state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-District 50 (Kailua-Kaneohe) at 586- 6480 or email her at repthielen@capitol.hawaii. gov.