Halfway Bridge. Hule'ia Bridge
Ha'iku, Puna District, Kaua'i

William K. Kikuchi


Some bridges were engineering and architectural statements by their designers and builders that these structures were not merely passageways over rivers, streams, gullies, canyons and valleys, but artistic attempts to beautify and glorify such crossings. Once built, they became an integral part of the landscape serving its purpose with dignity and pride. As time passed, many bridges of wood and / or steel were moved or torn down and replaced with "modern" bridges of pre-stressed concrete and steel. Each bridge has its story; this is one of them.


Hule'ia Bridge

Hule'ia Bridge was so named because the structure crossed Hule'ia Stream. While this official name is fixed in the engineering records, the bridge was more popularly known as Halfway Bridge because it supposedly was located half-way between Lihu'e and Koloa, a distance based on rumors and conjectures. No one seems to know just why the name changed or from where it actually derived its popular.


The native Hawaiians appear to have created one of their paths near the location of the bridge. No ancient bridge occurred in the area; rather, it was simply a foot path that crossed the stream.

The area inland from the bridge is a deep gully with steep sides and a waterfall. The lands seaward of the bridge are part of a wider gully with some steep gully faces. The path crossed over an area of flat, exposed bedrock ; this probably simply was the best location to cross safely over to the other side of the stream.

At this location may have run a theoretical line that divided the wet, forested Ha'iku region from the drier westerly Koloa uplands. This line was typical of imaginary demarcations which, on each of the Hawaiian islands, divided the More lush domain of the demigod Kamapua'a [Lono] from that of the demigoddess Pele, who controlled the drier , Leeward sides. The passage way across Hule'ia Stream where the bridge now stands may have required a tribute of sorts, an offering to enable safe passage over into the domain of another demigod. Today, this tribute remains in the form of ghost tales connected with the bridge crossings.



The County of Kaua'i, Department of Public Works (DPW), has a plan which shows that the initial bridge was designed in 1926 by R. L. Garlinhouse. This bridge of concrete was constructed on an older roadbed. The contract for the original bridge was awarded to S. Honjiyo in January of 1927 for a low bid of $20,956. Work began on February 1, 1927. The Garden Island newspaper stated that the bridge was to be straight so as to straighten out the road on the Koloa side. "It is also planned to straighten out the road on the Koloa side and remove one small turn between the bridge and the top of the hill." The reason for this was to eliminate factors which previously produced a number of accidents in times of wet weather.

Reconstruction 1936

The second reconstruction of 13 wooden bents that supported the deck of the roadway was constructed on an older concrete structure. This reconstruction was designed in November of 1936 by W. R. Bartels, the master bridge designer for the Territorial Highway Department. The construction was supervised by Robert M. Belt and was built by Hawaiian Contracting Company, Ltd. The bridge was completed between June 30, 1937, and June 30, 1938. This reconstruction was financed with the aid of the Federal Aid Highway Program (FAP #12-1) as a consequence of the depression of 1929.


In 1982 , the original workmanship of creosote timber remained intact. The wooden planks and railings of its sidewalk were replaced in that year.