Queen K high­way tab hits $105M

New state web­site says project 60 per­cent com­plete

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY CAMERON MICULKA cmiculka@west­hawai­ito­day.com

KAILUA- KONA — Once a $90 mil­lion project ex­pected to wrap up in Septem­ber, phase two of the Queen Kaahu­manu High­way widen­ing has grown to a $105 mil­lion project now planned to be sub­stan­tially com­pleted next Au­gust.

The project, which broke ground in Septem­ber 2015, will widen High­way 19 from two to four lanes be­tween Kealakehe Park­way and Kea­hole Air­port Road. It will also put new lights and sig­nals in the area. The first phase of that project widened the high­way from Henry Street to Kealakehe Park­way and fin­ished in 2007.

And while the state’s Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion orig­i­nally an­nounced that the sec­ond phase would be done by Septem­ber at a cost of $90 mil­lion, de­lays in con­struc­tion have led to ex­tended fin­ish times and a state web­site pub­lish­ing data about state projects now shows that the cost has grown by $15 mil­lion.

On Wed­nes­day, the Hawaii Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion an­nounced that the web­site was avail­able, which pub­lished data and sta­tus re­ports for all cur­rent state

high­ways projects and projects planned to kick off con­struc­tion in the next two years.

Ac­cord­ing to that web­site, the cost of the Queen Kaahu­manu widen­ing phase two is now up to $105 mil­lion dol­lars and is con­sid­ered 60 per­cent com­plete, although the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion didn’t re­spond to ques­tions last week about what specif­i­cally the grow­ing costs were pay­ing for.

The com­ple­tion per­cent­age, the web­site said, in­di­cates the dol­lar por­tion of the con­tract that has been com­pleted, while the cost re­flects “the ap­prox­i­mate cur­rent con­tract amount in­clud­ing amend­ments to the con­tract.”

The project first ran into a slow­down in March 2016 af­ter the state needed to sign off on a redesign of part of the road.

The de­sign was changed to avoid his­tor­i­cal sites at Kaloko- Honoko­hau Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, re­sult­ing in shrink­ing a me­dian and putting in a re­tain­ing wall.

That stall though wasn’t at the time ex­pected to af­fect the planned Septem­ber 2017 com­ple­tion date.

Then in late July 2016, the depart­ment found a pos­si­ble, later con­firmed site breach that im­pacted four gen­eral ar­eas of two his­tor­i­cal trails. Both of the trails are listed on the State In­ven­tory of His­toric Places.

Af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing the site breaches, the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion de­ter­mined that the area of po­ten­tial ef­fect, which cov­ers the area that could be al­tered by con­struc­tion projects, didn’t ac­count for con­nec­tions to side roads, mean­ing that the depart­ment didn’t ac­count for right-turn lanes that branch off the high­way to

merge with per­pen­dic­u­lar roads.

As a re­sult, the depart­ment’s High­ways Di­vi­sion Plan­ning Of­fice set to work co­or­di­nat­ing a re­vised area of po­ten­tial ef­fect.

A sep­a­rate holdup re­quired a redesign man­dated by fed­eral reg­u­la­tions that pro­tect his­toric prop­er­ties, prompt­ing the need for re­tain­ing walls not orig­i­nally a part of the widen­ing project.

The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion said then that the de­lays would push the time­line into Novem­ber 2018, but the agency at the time didn’t have a re­vised cost es­ti­mate.

Work along the high­way re­sumed at the end of this past Jan­uary, and depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives told a group of com­mu­nity mem­bers in April that the project should be sub­stan­tially com­pleted by Au­gust 2018.

LAURA RUMINSKI/ WEST HAWAII TO­DAY

Grace Pa­cific work­ers pave the south­bound lanes for the Queen Kaahu­manu High­way widen­ing project.

LAURA RUMINSKI/ WEST HAWAII TO­DAY

Grace Pa­cific work­ers pave the south­bound lanes for the Queen Kaahu­manu High­way widen­ing project.

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