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Bids for Bayfront Trails come in too high

  • Gusty winds blow the fonds of palm trees in an offshore direction along Hilo Bayfront Trails in this 2018 photo. (Tribune-Herald file photo)

The second phase of the Hilo Bayfront Trails will be rebid after initial bids for the project came in over budget.

Phase two was initially expected to extend the trail a little more than 2,100 feet, completing a loop with the existing trail near the Bayfront soccer fields and extending a path downtown behind Ben Franklin Crafts.

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Bids for the project, however, were broken down into three parts: a base bid for work that will extend the path to Kilauea Avenue near Ponahawai Street, and two alternative additions.

One addition would tie the trail into the Ben Franklin parking lot with a walkway and include accessible parking modifications as well as the removal of two large trees, according to Barett Otani, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim. The second addition would extend the trail from Pauahi Street to Kumu Street, creating a loop.

Phase two was expected to cost approximately $440,000, the Tribune-Herald previously reported.

Hilo Bayfront Trails Inc. — the nonprofit spearheading the effort to build a shared-use pathway throughout the Bayfront area and, ultimately, out to Hilo Harbor — is responsible for $65,000 of that anticipated cost, a federal grant from the National Park Service will cover $220,000, and the county will cover the remaining $155,000.

However, the base bids alone ranged from $457,887 to $1.23 million.

With all the proposed work included, bids ranged from $1.1 million-$1.95 million.

Otani said the county wants to rebid the “basic bid” segment, while the additions would be redesigned and transitioned to the next administration.

He hopes to rebid the project “soon,” but no timeline was in place.

The existing first phase of the trails was completed in late 2016 and consists of three separate sections: from Mooheau Park to Pauahi Street, from Pauahi Street to the Bayfront canoe hale, and from Pauahi Street to the Bayfront soccer fields. Together, the sections total 5,125 feet, or about a mile.

“I’m disappointed the bids came in so high, and I’m disappointed we may not be able to get one section built for the budget we had,” said Matthias Kusch, president of Hilo Bayfront Trails.

According to Kusch, bid prices are between 250% and 300% higher per linear foot than the first phase, which was built just four years ago — a “pretty staggering cost increase.”

The project’s budget did include money for inflation and higher material costs, he said.

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Kusch said the trails group also has received a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii County Research and Development Department for engineering and survey work for the third phase of the project, which would extend the trail through the Wailoa River State Recreation Area.

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

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