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Letter to the Editor: State Should Fully Commit to Highway Widening Project in Kona

February 13, 2021, 5:40 PM HST
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The following is a letter to the editor. It has not been edited for content. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Big Island Now or Pacific Media Group. 

UH file photo.

“Hawai‘i State Senator Dru Kanuha introduced legislation, Senate Bill 1011, which allocates $30 million toward widening Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway Extension and Kuakini Highway.

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) testimony regarding SB 1011 briefly details its plans. These plans include adding an additional lane with contraflow through the proposed funding. This will pose challenges between Lako Street and Kamehameha III Road, where the topography leaves little room to add additional capacity without having to resort to acquiring right of way.

HDOT also stated in its testimony that a bonafide widening of Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway Extension/ Kuakini Highway is estimated to cost $150 million and require right of acquisition from 150 property owners. In other words, the proposed $30 million dollar allocation is only 20% of what is necessary to truly widen this congested thoroughfare.

They also stopped work on the required environmental assessment for the widening of this highway, which will have to resume if it is the intention to add additional capacity.

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I suggest HDOT seeks additional Federal Highway Administration matching funds to do a genuine widening of these highways instead of this band-aid approach using only state funds. Yes, the cost of doing that is roughly $150 million, but the work could be phased as funds become available. This would be the preferred approach to accommodate future population and traffic growth.”

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