Lava threatens to cut off main road on Hawaii Big Island
HILO, Hawaii — The uninterrupted flow of lava from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano is prompting civil defense and transportation officials to closely monitor one of the Big Island’s main highways to determine if it may need to be closed due to the ongoing eruption.
Hawaii Route 200 runs west-east across the island for more than 50 miles and serves as a major thoroughfare between Hilo and Kona.
Located in the border region separating Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the highway is the most significant infrastructure threatened to date by the eruption that began Nov. 27.
According to latest reports, Lava was about two miles from the busy road, but the flow had slowed significantly due to the flatter terrain.
“We expect the movement of this river to become somewhat sporadic from now on as it flows across the flat ground. It will puff up, incoming lava will be stored in it, and then it will probably come out in lobes at different times. So sometimes it seems to move faster and sometimes it doesn’t seem to move at all,” said Ken Hon, senior scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The critical route remains open, but if lava reaches the road, a shutdown would essentially double travelers’ commute times since there is no other shorter route around the volcano.
Officials have been preparing for the possibility for weeks, and the detour routes are clear of obstacles in case motorists will be forced to use alternate roads.
“There is a lot of uncertainty here. We can say that at this speed it would take at least a week to reach the freeway,” Hon said.
Congressmen from the 50th state have asked the White House for expedited federal assistance before daily life on the Big Island is disrupted.
“Restricted access due to the lava flow can severely impact emergency services since one of the island’s main hospitals is located in eastern Hawai’i. Additionally, a traffic diversion will significantly congest two state highways,” they said in a joint letter to President Biden.
More than 200,000 people live on the Big Island, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, but none are at immediate risk of lava impact.
https://nypost.com/2022/12/04/lava-threatens-to-cutoff-main-highway-on-hawaii-big-island/ Lava threatens to cut off main road on Hawaii Big Island