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Stene: Governor off base on highway project

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie made several inflammatory and counterproductive statements at a recent Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce event. He blamed the Native Hawaiian Organizations, who’ve intervened in the Queen Kaahumanu Highway Phase II widening project, for holding it up.

Federal funds will be used to widen Queen Kaahumanu Highway
between Honokohau Harbor and Kona International Airport, so the FHWA and HDOT is required to conduct Section 106 consultations (National Historic Preservation Act) when significant archaeological sites are found.

These issues could’ve been addressed earlier, if they did a supplemental environmental assessment. However, the HDOT and FHWA relied solely on an assessment completed back in 1996 instead.

This decision is the root cause for these recent delays, not the actions of these Native Hawaiian Organizations.

The widening of Queen Kaahumanu Highway between the harbor and Kona International Airport is an important infrastructure project for West Hawaii.

The project stakeholders need to find common ground, so this important roadway project can finally move forward.

Aaron Stene

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