The Hawai`i Department of Transportation is lowering the speed limit on Highway 130 (Keaau-Pahoa Road) in the vicinity of mile markers 14.4 and 14.6 to 25 mph.
The lowered speed limit is necessary for the safety of the Kalapana and Pahoa residents as they drive over the steel plates installed over the cracks caused by the volcanic activity in the area, according to DOT officials.
The 25-mph speed limit will be posted Sunday, May 27.
HDOT and the Hawaii National Guard continue to monitor the area for heat and sulfur dioxide levels. Cameras have also been installed on Highway 130 and Highway 11, which suffered damage due to seismic activity on May 16. Highway 130 is currently the only accessible route for the residents of lower Puna following the closure of Highway 137 on May 19.
HDOT is working with the National Parks Service, federal, state, and county agencies to prepare Chain of Craters Road as an evacuation route should Highway 130 be cut off by the Kilauea eruption. Plans are in the works to provide emergency access across the 2016-2017 lava flow while taking measures to prevent adverse impacts to park cultural and natural resources within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Aerial surveys and ground penetrating radar over the solidified 2016-2017 lava flow do not show major safety issues preventing the development of Chain of Craters as a future evacuation route.
Photo: Cracks in Highway 130 at 9:30 a.m. on May 7, Orange paint was used to outline the cracks. The road has since reopened with metal plates over the cracks. USGS photo.