HILO, Hawaii ( Associated Press) – Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii were bracing for major upheaval Saturday if lava from the Mauna Loa volcano overflowed a major highway and the fastest route connecting the two sides of the island. blocks the
Molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to seek alternative coastal routes to the north and south. This can add hours to travel time, doctor visits and truckload deliveries.
“I’m very nervous about the closure,” said Frank Manley, a nurse whose one-way commute from his home in Hilo to a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Kailua-Kona is an hour and 45 minutes.
If the highway is closed, Manley estimates driving two and a half to three hours each way. He fears losing his salary if an accident or other traffic disruption on an alternate route delays his arrival.
The lava is slowly moving at a pace that could hit the highway within the next week. But your path is unpredictable and may change course, or the flow may stop altogether and save the road.
Scientists with the US Geological Survey said the slow-moving stream was moving about 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) from the highway on Friday.
There are more affordable accommodation options on the east side of the island, where the county seat, Hilo, is located. But many jobs in resorts, construction and other industries are available on the west side, where Kailua-Kona is located. Saddle Road, also known as Route 200 or Daniel K. Also known as the Inouye Highway, connects the two communities.
The state’s transport department swung into action on Thursday to clear potential traffic bottlenecks on the northern coastal road by reopening one lane of the Nanyu Bridge, which was closed for repairs.
Hilo is also one of the main ports on the island, where a variety of goods arrive by ship before crossing the island by truck.
Hawaii County Councilwoman Susan “Sue” LK Lee Loy, who represents parts of Hilo and Puna, said she is concerned about large trucks crossing the aging coastal bridges.
“It’s going to take a lot to rethink how we get around the Hawaiian Islands,” he said.
There are over 200,000 Big Island residents. With tourists, delivery trucks and commuters being forced to divert routes, Harrison said he could not imagine overcrowding.
“Flying to Honolulu might be even faster,” he said of the hour-long flight. “No lines at Hilo airport. Flying in, seeing the doctor, coming back would actually be faster than driving.”
A shutdown could also affect vital astronomical research at the summit of Mauna Kea, the 13,803-foot (4,207 m) peak next to Mauna Loa that is home to some of the world’s most advanced telescopes.