Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor
It may not be a fast track when it’s complete, but construction of Ane Keohokalole Highway certainly is on a fast track.
Little more than 18 months after Mayor Billy Kenoi tasked West Hawaii executive assistant Bobby Command with shepherding the project through various county, state and federal hoops, it’s actually looking like a road.
And the two-lane road is on target for completion in January 2012. Paving is expected to begin by the end of the year.
“It takes pressure off other roads. It’ll help connect neighborhoods, schools, businesses and the West Hawaii Civic Center,” Command said. “This kind of economic stimulus money doesn’t happen that often and we’ve taken what comes our way.”
The new thoroughfare will link Palani Road (at the Henry Street intersection) with Kealakehe Parkway (just below Kealakehe High School). Eventually, it will lead out toward Palamanui and the new West Hawaii community college campus.
The 1.7-mile stretch comes with a price tag approaching $30 million, much of that from federal stimulus funds. The project has provided 70 to 100 local jobs, said Nan Inc. project manager Alex Leonard during a tour last week of the site.
Work currently is focused on digging trenches for electrical tubes, while the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat finishes its nesting season on brush land above Makalapua Center.
Much of the paving will be done with concrete, Leonard said, which is cheaper and has a longer life than asphalt.
The road runs alongside the school’s ballfields, so the county and state are working to make sure stray softballs, baseballs and footballs don’t ping into traffic. Or on to the bike path or sidewalks.
Palani Road between Queen Kaahumanu Highway and the Henry Street intersection will be widened to include two lanes each way and a turn lane at Kamakaeha Avenue.
Expected to begin next month, that project also includes installing underground utilities. Leonard said that likely will impact traffic flow at West Hawaii’s busiest intersection, as individual lanes will be shut down.
Work is slated to begin next month on the Keahuolu Interpretive Center. Using rocks dug up during the road construction, it will be built toward the Palani Road end.
This phase of Ane Keohokalole Highway extends to grading more than 1 mile north to HIna-Lani Street, which will mean the county can apply for $10 million in federal funds to complete the road.
The entire area has a 20-year build-out timeline. On the drawing board are Forest City Hawaii’s Kamakana Village, Queen Liliuokalani Trust commercial development, Laiopua 2020 Village and well-underway West Hawaii Civic Center at the north end.