County officials still hope to get the stalled Kalanianaole Avenue improvement project finished by the end of the year.
Hawaii County Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst said Friday that his department has been negotiating with contractor Goodfellow Bros. for the past several months to get the project — which was once scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018 — back on track.
“After I first came on board (as director in December), my priority was to assess the status of these long-standing projects and find out where they were,” Rodenhurst said. “My assessment of the project from before I came on board was that there’s a lot of reasons for the project to be in the state it’s in right now. There have been some miscommunications with the contractor that I think we’ve corrected.”
During a County Council committee meeting in January, a DPW engineer said the county would put the project up for a re-bid. However, Rodenhurst said Friday that the county chose not to reopen the project to bids and instead will continue working with Goodfellow Bros. He said keeping the same contractor on the project would be more efficient.
Rodenhurst said he has been pressing Goodfellow Bros. to get the project done by the end of the year, although he added that the contractor’s latest estimate for completion is February 2022.
Little work has been done on the project in the last six months, despite the county ordering Goodfellow Bros. to resume work in May.
The ongoing negotiations with Goodfellow Bros. include discussions about the project’s cost, Rodenhurst said.
The project’s budget could swell beyond the $18.5 currently allocated to it, but Rodenhurst insisted the DPW will not have to request additional funds from the County Council. Rather, he said additional money will come from a cost-sharing plan with Hawaiian Electric. He was unable to provide further specifics.
The project covers about one mile of Kalanianaole Avenue, and entails a widening of the road, installation of an additional sidewalk and paved shoulder, a turn lane, bicycle lanes, a water line and improved drainage.
Including planning and funding phases, the project has spanned three county administrations.
Some of the project’s delays have been due to changes to its scope, including changing the road surface from asphalt to concrete. Rodenhurst said that change is non-negotiable, because it would be impossible to install new asphalt without potentially damaging a Hawaiian Electric fuel line beneath the road’s surface.
Rodenhurst said the end is in sight for the negotiations with the contractor. He said he met with Goodfellow representatives and Mayor Mitch Roth on Thursday to discuss the status of the project.
That meeting occurred three days after Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy sent a letter to the Tribune-Herald urging the county to finish the project after years of work.
“This one-mile project has had significant impacts, costing tax payers $18-million thus far, outlasted the previous administration (4 years), and soon will be exacerbated by summertime use of all our county beach parks in the area,” the letter read.
“Residents have explored many options to address the delays,” Lee Loy’s letter continued. “800 signatures were secured within 48 hours of initiating a petition drive. Residents have filed claims against Hawaii County for vehicle damages. I have consistently stressed accountability at the County Council regarding construction delays, and cost overruns. Our residents deserve better than another excuse.”
“I understand it’s a great inconvenience for everyone, but we are committed to getting this project done,” Rodenhurst said. “We’re doing everything we can to get this done as soon as possible.”
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