East Hawaii News

Kenoi Asks Lawmakers for Highway, University Projects

January 15, 2014, 4:34 PM HST
* Updated January 15, 4:47 PM
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Mayor Billy Kenoi today asked state lawmakers for support in the funding of key infrastructure projects on the Big Island.

Some of the items had been requested before, including the widening of Route 130 between Keaau and Pahoa, a stretch which Kenoi said contains four intersections that rank among the most dangerous in the state.

The state is currently adding more lanes to the 2.3-mile section between the end of the Keaau bypass and Shower Drive, where a traffic signal will be installed. However, the project includes the use of one of the resulting four lanes only for peak-traffic periods.

 Kenoi asked legislators to expand the entire 9-mile stretch to four lanes.

“This highly congested state highway is the only major route in and out of Lower Puna, and serves one of the fastest growing regions in our state,” Kenoi said in remarks delivered to both the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance committees.

Another repeat request was for construction of a permanent home for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy.

college of pharmacy rendering

A rendering for the proposed Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building. Courtesy image.

Despite an intense lobbying effort, the project last year was left out of the state’s capital improvement budget. The project was supported by the Senate but failed to gain traction in the House.

The University of Hawaii has asked the Legislature for $33 million for a new home for the school now known as the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

“The college was granted accreditation before obtaining permanent facilities, and it is time to provide a permanent home for the college to meet its long-range needs and assure it retains accreditation,” Kenoi told the money committees.Providing a permanent home for the college will allow it to fulfill its promise as a center of excellence in education and health sciences.”

Other projects for which Kenoi sought support included:

  • $2.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to further modernize the Big Island’s civil defense warning system through the installation of 36 new sirens
  • $2.8 million for the state hospital system’s programs to attract and retain physicans and nurses on the Big Island
  • Continued improvements to Kona International Airport including reopening of customs facilities for international arrivals
  • Funding in support of federal efforts to develop alternatives to incarceration of juvenile offenders including truancy prevention programs as well as additional juvenile parole officers in both East and West Hawaii

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