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Roundabout eyed for busy Hilo intersection

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Cars drive through the intersection at Waianuenue Avenue, Kamehameha Avenue and Highway 19 in Hilo on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

Improvements at a busy downtown Hilo intersection could be on the distant horizon.

The state Department of Transportation is working through the process to plan and fund improvements at the intersection of Waianuenue Avenue, Bayfront Highway and Kamehameha Avenue in downtown Hilo, said spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.

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“The intersection geometry is inefficient for all users, and is difficult to upgrade for improved bicycle and pedestrian usage,” she said. “The improvement we believe would work best to improve safety and efficiency for all users is a roundabout, and we are working through the alternatives analysis to decide on the best solution.”

DOT will coordinate the improvements with Hawaii County.

Kunishige said a timeline for the project would depend on the availability of funds.

According to the DOT website, an average of between 8,500 and 15,600 vehicles approach that intersection daily.

Improvements at the busy intersection, a gateway into downtown Hilo, have long been discussed.

The DOT planned to begin design work in 2014 for improvements at the intersection, a district engineer told the Tribune-Herald in December 2013.

Other road work is planned for Waianuenue Avenue in the near future.

The Tribune-Herald reported earlier this month that a pavement rehabilitation project is in the works for a section of Waianuenue Avenue, although a start date has not been established.

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

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A spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Works said earlier this month that DPW was working to secure federal approval and funds for the project.

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

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