The commute to, from and through Waimea will be more difficult in the coming months.
Lane closures are scheduled from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays beginning Monday, Sept. 16, and continuing through Dec. 13, weather permitting, as part of the ongoing Mamalahoa Highway widening project in Waimea, announced the county Department of Public Works Engineering Division on Wednesday.
While roadwork is conducted, traffic will be contra-flowed through the work area, and personnel will be on scene for traffic control.
All motorists, cyclists and pedestrians using Highway 19 from the intersections of Mana Road to White Road should expect delays during the stated working hours and plan commutes accordingly, DPW said.
The Mamalahoa Highway Widening Project began in May 2018 and includes road widening and roadway reconstruction between Mud Lane and Mana Road.
Widening will allow turning lanes to be installed.
While night work between Mana Road and Hohola Street has helped prevent potential traffic problems in that area, James Hustace, chairman of the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee, said in some instances daytime work and subsequent lane closures in that corridor led to congestion that was “backed up pretty far west” into the Waimea town center and was “felt pretty heavily by community members and those traveling through.”
However, night work is not permitted during the upcoming portion of the project because of fledgling season of Hawaiian petrels and Newell’s shearwaters.
With the upcoming daytime lane closures, “I can only imagine what the congestion will be,” said Hustace, who also serves on the board of Waimea Community Association, but “I don’t want to prophesize what will (happen).”
“More people traveling along (the) Hamakua route to get to work these days, with other activities on the island, will further impact our roads here in Waimea … ,” he said.
Hustace said there is frustration in the community about the length of the project and that the roadwork wasn’t addressed before, but there also is relief that it is finally being done.
The committee has seen a “hodgepodge of feelings and different consensus from the community,” he said, not only that there’s a need for the work, but “also seeing community concern about how it impacts their day-to-day life … .”
Motorists should drive with caution in the work zone, DPW said.
Hustace also encouraged people to share information about the roadwork with friends, family and neighbors and to limit the amount of time and times of travel to limit the amount of congestion.
Goodfellow Bros. Inc. is the contractor on the $19.6 million project, which is expected to be completed in April 2020.
Nighttime waterline work began Aug. 14 and is set to continue through Friday, and shoulder paving between Mealani Road and Kipu‘upu‘u Street took place in the latter part of August.
The South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee meets at 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month in the conference room of the Thelma Parker Memorial Library. Meetings are open to the public.
Email Stephanie Salmons at email@example.com.