No Design Yet For Shower Drive Signal In Puna
New lanes aimed at easing traffic congestion at a notorious bottleneck in Keaau aren’t likely to be done this year – or next.
State Department of Transportation contractors are currently working on the 2.3-mile widening project on Route 130, adding a traffic lane in each direction between the end of the Keaau Bypass and Shower Drive.
But that’s just Phase I, which isn’t expected to be complete until April 27, 2015, said DOT spokeswoman Patricia B. Wong.
Phase II of the $15 million project, which includes a traffic light at Shower Drive to regulate traffic where the two Pahoa-bound lanes will merge into one, doesn’t have a completion date and is still in the design phase, Wong said in an e-mail response to BIN questions. “We are currently working on the rights-of-way acquisition near the intersection of Shower Drive,” she wrote.
Pahoa-bound commuter traffic backs up to a standstill past Keaau High School almost every weeknight where two lanes now merge into one at the south end of the Keaau bypass near the Hawaii Island Humane Society.
The shoulder-lane conversion project, which began Aug. 26, is the next-to-last project on the DOT’s Route 130 planning schedule. Work on a roundabout at the Pahoa Village Road intersection in Pahoa is scheduled to begin in April and expected to be complete by the end of 2014.
In 2009-11, the DOT, consultants and a Keaau-Pahoa Advisory Group of local residents recommended a full four-lane highway with extensive intersection improvements along the entire 9.5-mile section of Route 130 between Keaau and Pahoa high schools. However the estimated construction cost of $130 million isn’t funded, Wong said. “We are still working on executing the (design) contract and design will take approximately 20 months to complete.”
The highway is the only thoroughfare moving residents in and out of the fast-growing Puna District, and its intersections in past years have consistently ranked among the worst for safety in the state.
Three Route 130 intersections were among the state’s worst for total accident rates in a 2008 state DOT report submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. By 2012, however, criteria changed to include only serious or fatal injury accidents in the report, leaving only one Route 130 intersection among the state’s worst, said state Transportation Director Glen Okimoto, also in a written response.
The more dangerous intersections listed in 2008 have been improved by DOT, Wong noted.
Interim safety projects were completed in 2012 at Kahakai Boulevard ($193,250), and Ainaloa Boulevard ($492,620), and in 2011 at Orchidland and Paradise drives ($336,000).
Phase I of the ongoing shoulder-lane conversion project will widen the existing 10-foot temporary shoulder lane to 12 feet on the makai, or northbound lanes heading toward Keaau, and create an eight-foot shoulder for bicyclists and pedestrians.
On the southbound, mauka-side, Pahoa-bound lanes, Phase I will convert the existing non-traffic shoulder to a 10 foot-wide shoulder lane for peak-period traffic, while adding a two-foot shoulder.
Editor’s note: The author of this article served on the Keaau-Pahoa Advisory Group as a representative of the mayor’s office.