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No timeline in place for Waianuenue road work

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald People drive through the rain on Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo on Tuesday.

A pavement rehabilitation project is in the works for a section of Waianuenue Avenue, but a start date for the improvement has not been established.

Sherise Kana‘e-Kane, information and education specialist for the Hawaii County Department of Public Works, said DPW currently is working to secure federal approval and funds for the project.

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The pavement rehabilitation would span Waianuenue Avenue from Kaiulani Street to the upper intersection of Rainbow Drive, she said.

Resurfacing replaces the surface of a roadway, compared to rehabilitation projects, which provide “structural enhancement” by removing brittle pavement surfaces or increasing pavement thickness to strengthen sections of the road, according to Kana‘e-Kane.

“No timeline has been scheduled until we secure the federal funding,” she said. “We hope to secure funding within this fiscal year and start the bidding process in the fall.”

The estimated cost for the project is $7 million.

The lower portion of Waianuenue Avenue, from Kamehameha Avenue to Kaiulani Street, was resurfaced in late 2017.

The Tribune-Herald reported at that time that a planned second phase of resurfacing would cover Waianuenue Avenue from Kaiulani Street to Kaumana Drive, but no date for the project was set.

“I reasonably expected that to have happened about three years ago,” Hilo County Councilman Aaron Chung said about the proposed second phase. “And so I addressed it with the last administration (and with) this administration. I’m hopeful this administration is going to follow through on some remedial repairs with the road while they’re waiting on the bigger project to be approved or ready to roll.

“This was the ideal time for them to at least do some resurfacing because there’s no school,” he continued.

Kana‘e-Kane, however, said no other resurfacing is scheduled.

Chung said there was a move to improve county roads during the tenure of former Mayor Billy Kenoi, including the resurfacing of the lower portion of Waianuenue Avenue, but the momentum halted.

He last year sponsored a bill authorizing the issuance of $103 million in bonds to help expedite road projects across the island. Waianuenue was one of the priorities specified in the bill.

The councilman, though, said he’s not trying to shift blame to the administration.

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“We all have to bear responsibility for this. We have to share the blame,” he said. “… But it has been frustrating, I will say, particularly because we were on the move. We were in the right direction at the tail end of the Kenoi administration and thought we had momentum in that regard, and it stopped.”

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

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