East Hawaii News

Saddle Road Ceremony Set for Saturday

September 6, 2013, 6:09 PM HST
* Updated September 7, 2:56 AM
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The latest new section of Saddle Road will be opened at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The 10.3-mile segment through Keamuku bypasses the westernmost part of Saddle Road, a section known as “Seven Steps” and replete with narrow roadways, limited sight distances and numerous one-lane bridges.

The new section, which veers away from Saddle Road’s current track near the 49-mile marker, will take the road’s western terminus to a location on Highway 190, also known as the Mamalahoa Highway, about three miles south of  the Waikoloa Road intersection.

A dedication of the new section and a ceremony observing the renaming of Saddle Road to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway will be held near the 49-mile marker at 10 a.m.

The late Daniel Inouye.

The late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Courtesy photo.

The late senator has been credited as being the driving force in obtaining the $290 million spent so far on the realignment and other improvements to the road bisecting the Big Island in the saddle between Mauna Kea to the north and Mauna Loa and Hualalai to the south.

Inouye, who died last year, was also the keynote speaker at a ceremony on May 29, 2007 for the opening of the first modern-day renovation to Saddle Road, a 6.5-mile segment between the Mauna Kea Access Road and Mauna Kea State Park.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation is currently working to obtain $50 million in federal funding to complete the project’s next leg, the six-mile stretch at the eastern end of Saddle Road which leads to Hilo’s Puainako extension.

There are also long-range plans to extend Saddle Road 10 more miles to the west to connect it to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

The 47-mile-long road, formally known as state Highway 200, traces its beginnings to a dirt road built during World War II for access to the US Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area.

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