LIHU‘E — One segment of the Kaumuali‘i Highway Phase I widening project was completed and another segment started Wednesday during the Kaumuali‘i Highway ceremony attended by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and other dignitaries.
The first segment of construction on Kaumuali‘i Highway widened the highway from two to four lanes from Anonui Road in Puhi, located just west of the Kaua‘i Community College, to the approach of the Lihu‘e Mill Bridge, a span of more than 1.8 miles, at a total cost of $39 million, 80 percent paid for by federal funds.
During the construction, new bicycle lanes, medians and sidewalks were added to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe, states a state Department of Transportation release.
“This is the most powerful bike lane system on the island,” said Thomas Noyes, a long-time bicycling advocate during the ceremonies officiated Jadine Urasaki, deputy director of DOT, and by the Rev. Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad of Ke Akua Mana Church in Kapa‘a.
Intersection capacity has been improved with the installation of additional turning lanes.
The existing asphalt pavement has been replaced with a concrete pavement structure, which will require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan.
“This road widening project will enhance the quality of life for those who live in this area,” Abercrombie says in the release. “This is an example of our New Day works projects, which allows us to partner with other government entities to create jobs for our local workforce and improve the lives of our residents.”
Sen. Ron Kouchi pointed out Milissa Ceria, office manager of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., who was able to spend 80 percent of her time back home on Kaua‘i where she graduated from Kaua‘i High School.
Mayela Sosa, representing the Federal Highway Administration, said the mission of the FHA is to focus on the importance of mobility and keep the economy moving.
“FHA has put more than $100 million in Hawai‘i projects,” Sosa said. “Based on a national formula, each million dollar ‘investment’ creates anywhere from 11 to 38 jobs, and using 24 jobs as an average, the amount FHA has put in Hawai‘i resulted in about 2,400 jobs over the past few years.”
The next phase of construction on Kaumuali‘i Highway will continue the widening eastward to Rice Street and will include the construction of a new two-lane bridge structure adjacent to the current Lihu‘e Mill Bridge to accommodate westbound traffic. Ho‘omana Road, leading to and from German Hill, will be realigned as part of this phase of construction.
Total cost of this phase is $36.3 million in federal funds, including $22.7 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The State of Hawai‘i provided an additional $3.4 million for the project, which is anticipated to take until mid-2015 under Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
“Our next phase of the Kaumuali‘i Widening Project will solve a long-time bottleneck at the Lihu‘e Mill Bridge and help to improve traffic from downtown Lihu‘e to the Kukui Grove Center and past the KCC campus,” said Glenn Okimoto, DOT director. “We want to thank Senator Daniel Inouye and our Congressional delegation for their strong support and our partners at the Federal Highway Administration for making this project possible.”
The ceremony marked part of the first phase of the Kaumuali‘i Highway Widening project which, when completed, will be widened from two to four lanes from Lihu‘e to the “Tunnel of Trees” intersection at Maluhia Road.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was pleased to welcome the Honolulu dignitaries, adding how he and his cabinet realize the importance of transportation and how Kaua‘i has its own character of transportation.