Council OKs funds for road improvement projects

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald A truck drives over the Pauahi Street bridge in Hilo on Wednesday.

The County Council voted in favor of allocating nearly $5.9 million for various road improvement projects throughout the county.

A pair of bills discussed during Wednesday’s council meeting would disburse $5,891,400.42 in fuel tax revenues toward general highway and bridge improvement projects, as well as specific road improvement projects largely located in and around Hilo.

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Of the $5.89 million, $1.7 million will be set aside for Hilo-centric projects including the ongoing Kalanianaole Avenue reconstruction, improvements to the shoulder of Kawili Street, improvements and repairs to Kinoole Avenue and improvements to Waianuenue Avenue and Manono Street.

Other roads targeted include Kuakini Highway, Alii Highway and Old Mamalahoa Highway.

Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said he was disappointed that none of the roads being targeted are in Puna, which he pointed out is home to about one-third of the island’s population.

On the other hand, Puna will receive nearly $600,000 for unspecified highway improvement projects, as $2.9 million will be disbursed toward highway maintenance in each of the county’s districts. Puna will receive the second-highest amount of funds, with projects in Hilo receiving about $880,000.

Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said the fact that Puna has comparatively few county roads — most being state- or private-owned — means he hopes the $600,000 will go a long way to improving the district’s main transit corridors.

Another $1.2 million will go toward bridge repairs throughout the county, although the bills are not specific about which bridges will be repaired — so far, they only confirm that repairs will take place in North and South Hilo, Hamakua, North Kona and South Kohala. The only specifically named bridges are the Pauahi Street bridge in Hilo, the Waima‘au‘au Stream bridge in Pepeekeo and the Alii Drive culvert in Kona.

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Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst told the Finance Committee in January that he is working on putting together a specific list of upcoming projects as soon as possible.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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