‘Iao Valley State Monument will reopen on Saturday, August 5, 2017, at 7:00 a.m., The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is in the process of completing repairs to the areas in the park that were damaged by a massive flood event in September 2016. Due to pending permit approvals to complete the project, the DLNR Division of State Parks, decided to re-open the park for residents and visitors during the hiatus of construction activity. It’s anticipated construction will resume sometime this fall after permits are approved.
State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “We thank the Maui community and visitors for their patience and understanding during the park closure, but we still need to complete further safety measures later this year. We believe these improvements and repairs will provide our park users and visitors with the assurance that their health and safety are our top priorities.”
Cottrell added, “We coordinated with the tour industry and the local community to inform them on our repair plans, and consulted with the ‘Aha Moku representatives to ensure that the mitigation work was consistent with cultural values and protocols. A private blessing with ‘Aha Moku representatives and parties involved in the restoration took place today, to ensure public safety, and that we honor the place we are reopening tomorrow.”
As a demonstration of the collaborative relationship between state parks and tour industry to benefit the community, Polynesian Adventure Tours is intentionally not scheduling its bus tours for the first week after ‘Iao opens, to allow the community to visit without the buses returning.
Contractor Vares Contracting began work on February 13, 2017 to remove green waste, concrete debris and railings. Maui Kupono Builders, LLC did interim slope stabilization in the Wailuku River (‘Iao Stream). Visitors will see a significant change to the slopes of the now wider river, which now sport a revetment of stacked rocks and 300-400 feet worth of Shotcrete slope coating to prevent loose material from falling down.
Changes to the parking lot include restriping and installation of flexible traffic delineators, as well as installation of a green security guardrail fencing at various locations to keep buses only within the upper parking area, and warning signs to prevent people from getting close to the stream’s edge. This work was performed by Vares Contracting.
A pedestrian corridor has been marked with striping, and surface repairs were made to the pathways leading to the Hawaiian Garden and to the summit lookout. The park comfort station and upper lookout hale have been painted.
Maui Kupono Builders, LLC also did repairs to the iconic pedestrian bridge over Kinihapai Stream, which received a new support structure.
The Hawaiian Garden is open, with new security fencing installed to keep people away from a section of its walkway which collapsed beyond repair due to the flood.
The flood also caused severe damage to, and removed the lower large loop trail that previously ran along the streamside. Although it was cleaned up, it will remain fenced off and closed for public safety. State Parks is considering options for ways to make it safe for the public to enjoy.
The Division of State Parks will hold a community meeting later this year to explain a second phase of additional streamside slope stabilization and improvements requiring park closure again. Total project cost is $1,837,341.
‘Iao Valley State Monument is among the top attractions on Maui and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The flash flood in 2016 caused millions of dollars of damage to manmade structures like railings and pedestrian bridges and created serious erosion, stream channel and land movement. State Parks obtained emergency restoration funding and began clean-up and restoration operations within weeks of the flood.
*This story has been updated.