Section of Kalanianaole Avenue to become one-way

  • Construction on Kalanianaole Avenue is shown in this 2018 photo. (Tribune-Herald file photo)

A one-way traffic pattern is expected to be implemented along Kalanianaole Avenue between Silva Street and Kanoelehua Avenue next month as part of ongoing roadwork in Keaukaha.

The one-way pattern will run from Keaukaha toward Hilo, and motorists will be able to return to Keaukaha via Kamehameha Avenue and Silva Street, according to county Department of Public Works spokeswoman Denise Laitinen.

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The new pattern, which is expected to be in place for four to six months, is necessary for the installation of a new waterline, and will start after the completion of a sidewalk on the makai side of the street, Laitinen said in an email.

A specific date has not been set for the new traffic pattern.

A joint effort of the state Department of Transportation and county, the roadwork is being done to improve the roadway itself as well as improve safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Work will widen Kalanianaole Avenue from Kanoelehua Avenue to Kuhio Street to allow for a concrete sidewalk on the makai side, a paved shoulder on the mauka side, bicycle lanes in each direction, one through lane in each direction, a shared turn lane, and installation of a 12-inch diameter waterline.

So far, Laitinen said, crews have widened the mauka side of Kalanianaole Avenue — except for areas still awaiting underground utility relocation — have completed 85% of the makai concrete sidewalk, completed half of the project’s drainage improvements, began re-installing steel railing along Ice Pond, and started “exploratory excavation” for the new waterline.

In the coming weeks, sidewalk work will continue near the Hilo Harbor entrance and on makai side drainage structures, as will exploratory excavation for underground pipes near the harbor entrance, she said. The installation of a drainage system fronting Kuhio Kalanianaole Park also will begin.

Laitinen said DPW gave an update this week to the Keaukaha Community Association.

Association President Patrick Kahawaiolaa said there is frustration in the community regarding the roadwork, because community members are the ones directly affected, “but it is what it is.”

Comments from community members to the department this week also suggested how it might be able to better and more safely implement the one-way traffic pattern, he said.

“All we were saying (is) now that you’re doing it, be sure that you have officers at ‘pinch points’ that will make it easier for us to get in and out and be safe for people who have to merge at Verna’s (Drive In) … ,” Kahawaiolaa said.

The $18.4 million project began in March 2018, with an anticipated completion date of October 2020, weather and construction conditions permitting.

The original project budget was nearly $17.1 million, with the county’s costs totaling just more than $12 million and the state’s costs totaling nearly $5.1 million.

While a change order was added for a waterline running from Verna’s to the harbor, bringing the overall cost of the project to $18.4 million, the county’s cost has remained the same.

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Laitinen said the work is still expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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