Condemnation Underway to Extend Newly Named Ali`i Drive
by Dave Smith
Hawaii County has taken the first formal step toward completing a Kona bypass road originally envisioned more than three decades ago.
The County Council on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of a resolution authorizing the county to begin eminent domain proceedings to acquire property to finish what was formerly known as the Mamalahoa Highway bypass road.
As a result of another council action, the roadway is now officially part of Ali`i Drive.
The nearly 3.5-mile two-lane highway extending from the southern end of Ali`i Drive in Keauhou to Haleki`i Street in Kealakekua was developed as a condition of approvals for the upscale Hokulia development on the coastline below Kealakekua.
The bypass was opened for rush-hour traffic in 2009, and full-time in January.
Resolution 223, which still requires an additional affirmative vote for approval, calls for the county to begin condemnation proceedings to acquire five parcels of land totaling about 7.2 acres.
That property will allow the county to extend the road an additional 2.2 miles to the intersection of Mamalahoa and Napoopoo Road in Captain Cook.
A traffic signal will be installed at that intersection.
The county announced last year that it had reached a tentative agreement with the last remaining landowner for the completion of the roadway.
The project which began in 1998 for years had been mired in litigation involving the county and Hokulia’s developer and its bond insurer over financing, and with one of the landowners who claimed flaws in the eminent domain process.
The state began planning for the road in 1979 to relieve traffic resulting from commuters driving to Kailua-Kona from residential areas in Kainaliu and further south.