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Saddle Road project receives prestigious award


Every two years, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognizes outstanding highway transportation design projects across the nation and highlights the best via the FHWA’s Excellence in Highway Design Biennial Awards Program.

Saddle Road was honored recently among other national standouts with an Honorable Mention award in the Rural Highways division.

According to FHWA, one of the critical challenges facing highway design is providing context sensitive highway solutions that enhance safety, improve mobility, protect the environment, make effective use of limited resources, and deliver projects in a timely manner.

In nominating Saddle Road – the shortest and most direct cross-island route between east and west Hawaii and an important cross-island link between Hilo and the residential and resort areas along the Kona and Kohala coast – FHWA noted the project helped to remove conflicts between military training and the traveling public.

“Hilo-based highway designer Okahara and Associates and contractor Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. have helped provide a safer, more efficient and modern cross-island highway that better links Hawaii Island communities,” said Kona resident Walter Kunitake who serves as co-chairman of the Saddle Road Task Force. “Recognition of the superior design standards that reconfigured Saddle Road is indeed a well deserved honor.”

The 2010 awards for Excellence in Highway Design for ten categories were announced at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ annual meeting in Biloxi, Miss.

The Department of the Army constructed the original one-lane road in 1942 to provide access to its military training facilities located in the “saddle” between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island.

Over the intervening years, some widening and paving was done, but no significant improvements were made to horizontal and vertical alignments – leaving many of the existing deficiencies uncorrected.

The Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division, the Hawaii Department of Transportation and the Department of the Army are working together to improve Saddle Road, State Route 200.

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