Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023|
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A worker directs traffic on Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo on Oct. 28.
A long-awaited road reconstruction project on Waianuenue Avenue is expected to begin in February and last a full year.
Hawaii County in September awarded a $10 million contract to Jas. W. Glover Ltd. for a rehabilitation project on Waianuenue Avenue that will extend from Kaiulani Street to the upper intersection of Rainbow Drive.
Currently, utility probing is being conducted throughout the project area until Dec. 20. Afterward, rehabilitation work will begin in late February, with completion expected in February 2023, according to Sherise Kana‘e-Kane, information and education specialist for the Department of Public Works.
During construction, roadwork will be conducted between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., with night work conducted between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sidewalks will remain open during construction to allow students to safely walk to and from school.
“It’ll be a full reconstruction, which is something that definitely needs to be done,” said Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung, who has been a strong supporter of the project for years. “Especially in Hilo, it rains so much that you can’t rely on resurfacing for long.”
Much of the road’s surface in the project area is badly degraded, with crumbling patchwork and uneven surfaces.
In 2017, a lower portion of Waianuenue Avenue — from Kamehameha Avenue to Kaiulani Street — was resurfaced, but a planned second phase of resurfacing, from Kaiulani to Kaumana Drive, never occurred.
Chung said Waianuenue is a vital corridor for Hilo partly because Hilo High and Intermediate schools both fall inside the project area, but also because of the heavy ambulance traffic the road receives.
In light of the road’s importance for emergency vehicles heading to and from Hilo Medical Center, Chung said he thought the road should have been a compelling choice for resurfacing prior to an eventual restoration, but that project lost traction.
“I wish that we could have gotten that temporary solution while we worked on getting this project set up,” Chung said. “But we’re here now.”
Chung said the project will be funded through the Hawaii Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which offers matching state and federal funds for road projects.
“I’m just grateful to the (Mayor Mitch) Roth administration and previous administrations for getting this off the ground,” Chung said. “I’m happy that the people who live there and the ambulances won’t have to deal with these horrible conditions for much longer.”
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