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Updates on Big Isle transportation projects

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Sen. Josh Green’s ‘talk story’ session Thursday evening in Kona turned into a transportation update session.

Green invited state Department of Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto, who addressed about two dozen people at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Included in the updates were state highways, airports and commercial harbors.

Airports

The master plan for Kona International Airport is near completion and retains the open terminals and Hawaii style that residents favor.

The plan also includes upgraded baggage carousels, firefighting apparatus and security features.

Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center is slated to be moved, although Okimoto said he is unsure how that space might be used.

Also, Hilo Airport is scheduled for some minor upgrades.

Harbors

Pier reconstruction at Hilo Harbor will begin once dredging is complete. Dredging currently is underway.

At Kawaihae Harbor, a culvert repair project is almost complete. Dredging, paving and Pier 2A repairs are expected soon.

For the complete master plan for state harbors, visit www.hawaiiharborsplan.com

Roads & Highways

Repairs and maintenance are slated along sections of Akoni Pule Highway, Kohala Mountain Road, Mamalahoa Highway and Kuakini Highway.

Most of the questioned directed to Okimoto concerned Phase II of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project.

Okimoto said the start date has not yet been determined, but work is expected to begin by April 2012. The state is working to resolve issues raised by Native Hawaiian groups.

Other questions included proper signage along the airport access road, landscaping, access to NELHA and the poor conditions along Kaiminani Drive.

The Saddle Road realignment, which will link with Mamalahoa Highway near Mile Marker 14, will use state and federal funds. Okimoto said the state will ask the Department of Defense to kick in some extra funding.

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