West Hawaii Today - - Local News - Email Kirsten John­son at kjohn­son@hawai­itri­bune­herald.com.-

High­way, also known as Sad­dle Road.

The widen­ing and re­align­ment project con­nects the ex­ist­ing high­way near mile­post 11 to the west end of the Puainako Street ex­ten­sion in Hilo.

The project cul­mi­nates years of im­prove­ment projects to the cross- is­land high­way that have spanned 48 miles and cost $316.5 mil­lion. The road was orig­i­nally built in 1942 as a one-lane road to con­nect mil­i­tary train­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“This ful­fills the late Sen­a­tor (Daniel) Inouye’s vi­sion of a safe, ef­fi­cient route across the largest is­land in our state,” Gov. David Ige told the more than 60 peo­ple gath­ered for the 90-minute ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony.

The fi­nal phase cost $57 mil­lion, which was within its al­lo­cated bud­get. It im­proves about 6 miles of high­way and adds about three ad­di­tional miles of new road. Ad­di­tional safety fea­tures also were added in­clud­ing eight­foot shoul­der lanes for pass­ing, straighter align­ment and a climb­ing lane for slower and larger ve­hi­cles.

Fund­ing for im­prove­ments came from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. The U.S. Army also has con­trib­uted more than $100 mil­lion.

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