The Mamalahoa Highway Bypass is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide much-needed traffic relief to the families of South Kona.
The bypass is located midway between the shoreline and Mamalahoa Highway. The bypass starts at the southern edge of Keauhou and runs approximately three miles to the bottom of Haleki’i Street in Kealakekua’s Kona Scenic subdivision.
The Mamalahoa Highway Bypass first opened in 2009 under a temporary agreement with 1250 Oceanside Partners, the developer of Hokuli’a. Initially, the bypass was only open in one direction for limited hours. Even under those conditions, the alternate route provided alleviated traffic congestion and frustration. The agreement later allowed for two-way traffic for longer hours.
“We’re happy to announce that this much-needed bypass is now permanent,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “It is yet another important piece of infrastructure critical to improving the traffic situation for the people of West Hawai’i.”
1250 Oceanside Partners conveyed all of its right, title and interest from the Ali’i Drive entrance to the Haleki’i Street intersection to the County in December 2012. The 4,284 feet of Haleki’i Street from Mamalahoa Highway Bypass to Muli Street was conveyed to the County in November 2012.
In preparation for opening the bypass 24/7, the Department of Public Works completed improvements to the bypass, including paving the shoulders, installing guardrails, removing a speed hump, restoring the road at the Ali’i Drive entrance, removing stop signs and striping turn lanes at the Haleki’i Street intersection. Signs prohibiting bicycles, pedestrians, mopeds, vehicles over three tons and scooters were removed. The 45 mph posted speed limit on the bypass and the 25 mph limit on Haleki’i Street will remain.
A large portion of the South Kona community works in either North Kona or South Kohala and commutes daily along Mamalahoa Highway. The two-lane bypass gives motorists an alternate route between North and South Kona. Opening this bypass was one of Mayor Kenoi’s priorities upon taking office in December 2008. The Mayor was personally involved in talks with Mauka Kona residents to insure that the opening of this bypass helps meet the critical need for the transportation infrastructure in West Hawai‘i.
“The more we improve our island’s road infrastructure and mass transit system, the less time our working people will be spending in traffic, and the more time they will be spending at home with their families,” said Mayor Kenoi.
Future plans include extending the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass from the intersection with Haleki’i Street to the junction of Mamalahoa Highway and Napo’opo’o Road.