"While the recent and previously observed erosion episodes are temporary, similar episodic or event based erosion events are highly likely to cause management problems for infrastructure sited close to the beach in this area in the future,” wrote Ruby Pap, Sea Grant Coastal Land Use Extension Agent, in a memo to county Parks Director Lenny Rapozo and Buildings Division Chief Dough Haigh.
At the beginning of January, the county plans to start installing 9'x8'x1.5' concrete slabs that weigh about 9 tons each on the berm of the beach, adjacent to the roadway. The slabs will be connected with steel control joints, ostensibly so the county can cut through the spacers and lift the slabs away in case they need to be removed or adjusted to response to erosion. It will be separated from the highway by a barrier wall.
“As an alternative, we suggest that you look into a resilient raised wooden boardwalk design,” Pap wrote. “This option may be less costly and easier to maintain than a concrete path over the long-term, given the probability of removal that may be needed."
Pap noted that "historical shoreline positions visible in the erosion map show that shoreline position is highly variable at Wailua Beach, and the biggest erosion hazard is seasonal or episodic as opposed to a chronic long-term erosion trend."
“The height of a wooden boardwalk is flexible, and need not be extensive and I believe could be compatible with a highway barrier wall,” Pap wrote. “Benefits of a raised boardwalk design include an accommodation strategy which allows for waves and erosion to migrate under the structure without causing damage or even effecting the use of the boardwalk.
“Raised boardwalks are commonly constructed in beach settings around the world and serve to provide reliable access to and along the beach with minimal, negligible even, impact to the beach processes at a fraction of the coast of reinforced concrete pathways that may require repair.”
In a letter to the editor today, Judy Dalton of the Sierra Club wrote:
Building anything on a beach is an environmentally unsound idea but building a bike path on an eroding beach defies logic. The concrete path, in some places, would be as few as 12 feet away from the ledge which is eroding from increasingly higher wave action.
The alignment for the first bike path planned up until 2 years ago for Wailua Beach is now in the ocean. How soon would it take for the currently planned alignment to be affected by rising ocean levels?
Surfrider also opposes building a Path on Wailua Beach. The Path should instead be located on the asphalt roadway or routed behind Coco Palms.
Councilman KipuKai Kualii has asked county Planning Director Mike Dalihig and a Sea Grant representative to attend Wednesday's Council meeting “to provide an update on the erosion occurring at Wailua Beach and the impact that it may have on the multi-use path in that specific area.” Testimony may be submitted to email@example.com.