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State has $175.5M in road projects slated for West Hawaii

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

The state is investing $175.5 million in road projects along the Kona and Kohala coasts, including Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Saddle Road.

DOT Highways Division District Engineer Sal Panem provided an update on the state projects Tuesday evening at the Kona Town Meeting. Nearly 50 people attended the meeting.

Queen Kaahumanu Highway will be expanded from two lanes to four lanes between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport. The first phase from Kailua-Kona to the parkway is complete.

Although the work previously was expected to begin in the spring, Panem said the new tentative start date is September. The delays came as the state worked to resolve issues raised by Native Hawaiian groups.

Construction on the $76.2 million project is expected to take 18 months.

Panem mentioned several other state projects that are either planned or under way:

* Akoni Pule Highway – pavement preventative maintenance between mile markers 6.9 and 14.8 (Mahukona to Kohala Ranch) – $4.2 million

* Kohala Mountain Road – pavement preventative maintenance between mile markers 2.5 and 6.4 (Waiaka Junction) – $2.3 million

* Kuakini Highway near Kamehameha III Road – drainage improvements, install guardrails, install signs – $2 million – Completion expected in April

* Mamalahoa Highway – road reconstruction, install guardrails between mile markers 27 and 31 (Makalei) – $4.8 million – Completion expected later this month

* Mamalahoa Highway – road reconstruction, install guardrails (Makalei to Palani) – $5.7 million – No date scheduled yet

* Queen Kaahumanu Highway – resurfacing, left turn pockets, intersection improvements – Kiholo scenic lookout – $5.5 million – Completion expected March 15

* Queen Kaahumanu Highway – resurfacing, left turn pockets, intersection improvements – Kekaha Kai State Park – $6 million – Funds not yet secured; no date scheduled yet

* Saddle Road between mile markers 14 and 41 – resurfacing – $33.8 million – Completion expected May 13

* Saddle Road Realignment – mass grading, gravelling – currently 24 percent complete

* Saddle Road Realignment Phase II – paving and constructing underpass bridge – $35 million including $13.5 million federal TIGER grant – Bid to be advertised in May

* Saddle Road Extension to Waikoloa Beach Road – $70 million – in planning stage

Roger Harris, director of governmental affairs for Palamanui LLC, updated the access road that will link the new community college campus to the bottom of Kaiminani Road near the fire station.

The 1.2-mile roadway will be complete before the May 25 deadline, Harris said, with paving beginning in April.

Once the road is complete, it will be turned over to the county, he said.

In addition, county Public Works Director Warren Lee provided updates on West Hawaii projects:

* Alii Drive Culvert (just south of Kailua Village) – repairs, upgrades and widening – $10 million – county has acquired three of four parcels needed; environmental assessment ongoing

Lee said the county still is mulling how to best accommodate traffic during construction. It may mean a temporary bypass roadway or perhaps working on one lane at a time.

* Alii Drive along Oneo Bay (Hualalai Road to Walua Road) – widen roadway, install sidewalks, move utilities underground, possibly push seawall out – no cost estimate; possible federal grant – draft environmental assessment almost complete

* Palani Road at Henry Street/Ane Keohokalole Highway intersection – paving expected later this month – Palani likely to be completely closed from a Friday night to a Monday morning

* Laaloa Avenue extension – county still is acquiring private properties to punch through to Kuakini Highway

* Numerous Hele On bus stops and shelters planned, including along Alii Drive, at Konawaena High School and at Yano Hall

— For a complete rundown of the county projects, click the PDF button below.

Kona Road Project Update – Feb. 2012

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