The state Department of Transportation is considering a project that would allow for an “acceleration lane” at the intersection of Highway 130 and Shower Drive in Puna.
The lane would allow drivers from Shower Drive to merge safely onto northbound Highway 130, also known as Keaau-Pahoa Road, while maintaining the morning contraflow, DOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said.
“The dedicated right turn lane from Shower Drive onto northbound Keaau-Pahoa Road was removed in August 2019 in order to safely facilitate the (morning) contraflow as there were insufficient facilities for an acceleration lane,” she said.
State Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, a Puna Democrat, announced last month that $1.3 million in state capital improvement funding had been secured to reinstall a “right-turn-on-red” from Shower Drive to Highway 130.
When the DOT implemented the contraflow in the area, the department put in a left-turn lane going southbound from Highway 130 to Shower Drive, San Buenaventura explained.
“As soon as they put in that left turn lane, they removed the right turn on red from Shower, which a lot of (Hawaiian Paradise Park) residents were using to enter into Highway 130,” she said.
That ultimately leads to traffic congestion when the contraflow is removed.
“Until we get an alternate road, we need to have the right turn on red, because right now, HPP residents create this traffic backup from Shower.”
But with any construction project, the DOT must consider available funding and priorities, Kunishige said.
“We appreciate the additional funding outside of our state highways funds the Legislature has authorized through general obligation bonds,” she continued. “Sen. San Buenaventura championed this bond funding, which would need to be repaid.”
While San Buenaventura said she is hopeful the project will move forward, “if bond funding doesn’t go through … I’m hoping we can get general funds to fund it next session.”
Before a construction timeline can be provided, Kunishige said the department must consider how the required bond repayments would impact highway funds, priorities in safety and system preservation and bonding capacity.
More updates will be provided when available.
Email Stephanie Salmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.