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Commentary – Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III Should Be Top Transportation Project

Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III should be top transportation project for Hawaii County in North Kona. This segment will connect Hina-Lani Street to Kaminani Drive, so we’ll be able to drive from Henry Street to Kona Palisades without having to use Mamalahoa or Queen Kaahumanu highways.

Much attention was paid to honoring the culture and the place in building the Ane Keohokālole Highway. Markers indicate the boundaries of the ahupua‘a that the road runs through, like this one where Keahuolū meets Kealakehe.

This will help address chronic traffic circulation issues prevalent in this area. Its frustrating to see  the horrible traffic congestion on Highway 190, especially in the mornings and afternoon at Hina-Lani Street intersection. The intersection at Kaiminani Drive and Queen Kaahumanu Highway is  another traffic congestion hot spot. Both of  these issues will be addressed if the county proceeds with Phase III of Ane Keohokālole Highway.

There has been some discussion about resurrecting the Alii Parkway
project in light of the completionof the Alii Drive Extension (Mamalahoa Highway bypass) instead of proceeding with Ane Keohokālole Highway. I strongly believe this would be a huge mistake. Hawaii County has spent decades and untold millions of dollars to construct this road with nothing to show for it. I highly doubt the lingering archaeological issues will ever be resolved, especially with the renewed focus on preserving sensitive Native Hawaiian archaeological sites.

The Hawaii DOT has started preliminary planing to widen  Queen Kaahumanu Highway Extension (from Henry Street) and  Kuakini Highway past Kamehameha III Road, which should adequately address the ongoing congestion issues in this area.

I hope Mayor Kim’s administration decides to proceed with Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III instead of Alii Parkway. The latter project divided the community  when the county tried to proceed around 13 years ago.  Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III is a better choice for the community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

$30 Million Ane Keohokālole Highway Opened

Mayor Billy Kenoi today joined the families of the Keahuolū, Kealakehe, Kaloko, and Honokōhau areas, the Keohokālole family, and about 300 members of the public in opening the Ane Keohokālole Highway in Kona. The 2.9 mile, $30.5 million highway opened to the public this afternoon following a noontime blessing. The blessing included chants honoring the history of the area as well as Ane Keohokālole, the ali‘i for whom the road is named.

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Ka‘imi Keohokālole, Aunty Elizabeth Malu‘ihi Lee, and Keawe Keohokālole untie the maile lei signifying the opening of the Ane Keohokālole Highway.

Ane Keohokālole Highway runs parallel to and about a mile mauka of the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina Lani Street in Kaloko. It is named after the mother of Lili‘uokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom. A large portion of the land for the highway was donated by the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust.

“This is probably the most satisfying project we’ve built because it was the most challenging, and yet the most successful in terms of bringing people together,” Mayor Kenoi said.

The $30.5 million highway represents the largest expenditure of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act money for transportation infrastructure in Hawai‘i. It is also the first major road in Kona to be built by Hawai‘i County since statehood. Ground was broken on the first phase on March 30, 2010.

Much attention was paid to honoring the culture and the place in building the Ane Keohokālole Highway. Markers indicate the boundaries of the ahupua‘a that the road runs through, like this one where Keahuolū meets Kealakehe.

The county notified the Hawai‘i Island Burial Council and Native Hawaiian community early on in the process of planning the road, and worked closely with cultural descendants to ensure proper treatment of Native Hawaiian remains if found along the corridor. Working with Federal Highways Administration officials, a project team was able to make design modifications that assured the remains were preserved in place.

Project planner Belt Collins Hawai‘i worked on the design of the highway in parallel with the environmental and cultural processes. In November 2009, the project received a finding of no significant impact. The process, which normally takes as long as two years, was accomplished in eight months.

“One of the interesting things that came out of this was because it was a time crunch, everyone pulled together from all levels of government and all the different agencies,” said John Chung, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Belt Collins Hawai‘i. “A project like this wouldn’t have gotten done in under a year without a lot of cooperation. It was very refreshing to see.”

“I believe the Ane Keohokālole Highway serves as a template to show us how to address cultural concerns, burial issues, environmental concerns, and incorporate that into good design and good planning. But more important was the community input and community guidance,” Mayor Kenoi said.

“Because of all of those factors, and the leadership of our team, (Public Works Director) Warren Lee, (Deputy Managing Director) Wally Lau, and (Executive Assistant) Bobby Command, this incredible project is complete. It’s pretty exciting, pretty rewarding, and very satisfying.”

The Ane Keohokālole Highway is designed as a multi-modal transportation corridor, including bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus stops. County Mass Transit will establish a Hele-On Bus loop using Ane Keohokālole and Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highways.

Put out to bid in December 2009, the construction contract was awarded to Nan Inc. of Honolulu. The first phase was originally planned as 1.8 miles of finished highway from Palani Road to Kealakehe Parkway at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. The first phase also included widening and repaving about a third of a mile of Palani Road between Queen Ka‘ahumanu and the intersection with the new highway, as well as the ground work for a future 1.1 mile phase from Kealakehe Parkway to Hina Lani St.

“There were a lot of uncertainties in the beginning. None of us involved had ever built a road quite like this. This is the first concrete paved road on the Island of Hawai‘i, and the first major roadway construction project in over 20 years,” said Alex Leonard, Project Manager for Nan Inc. “A lot of people in the community have been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Deft management of the project by the County’s Department of Public Works saved almost $3 million, and that was applied to the cost of finishing the additional 1.1 mile stretch, linking the road to Hina Lani Street.

The Ane Keohokālole Highway is shown in this view looking north toward Kealakehe High School.

“It alleviates and mitigates the congestion that West Hawai‘i has experienced for many years. It allows people to spend less time in traffic and more time at home with their families,” said Mayor Kenoi. “It allows the creation of a thriving, vibrant community here in Kealakehe, in Kaloko, in Honokōhau, and in Keahuolū.”

Ane Keohokālole Highway will facilitate the development of the state’s Kamakana Village affordable-housing project, commercial development by the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust to support children’s programs, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ expansion of La‘i‘ōpua Village and its planned community center. The State Judiciary will also construct its new complex at the corner of Kealakehe Parkway and the new highway. County Mass Transit has committed to establish a Hele-On bus loop using Ane Keohokālole Highway and the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway.

The Ane Keohokālole Highway project also involves preservation efforts at each end of the road. An interpretive center is being built at the Palani Road end of the project, while an initiative to preserve one of Hawai‘i’s last remaining dryland forests is taking place at the Hina Lani Street intersection.

About Ane Keohokālole
The new highway is named for Chiefess Ane Keohokālole, a descendant of chiefs and the mother of two Hawaiian monarchs.

Keohokālole was born in 1816 in Kona. Her paternal lineage traces back to Kame‘eiamoku and Keaweaheulu, Kona chiefs who supported Kamehameha during his quest to unite Hawai‘i Island before going on to unite all the islands of Hawai‘i. Keohokālole married Caesar Kapa‘akea and had ten children – among them King Kalākaua, Queen Lili‘uokalani, Princess Likelike, and Prince Leleiohoku, collectively known as Nā Lani ‘Ehā (The Royal Four).

With the lands that she inherited from her mother Keohokālole, Queen Lili‘uokalani established the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust as an enduring gift to Hawai‘i’s people, to serve orphaned and destitute children. A large portion of the land for the highway was donated by the trust.

$30.5 Million Ane Keohokālole Highway to Open this Weekend on the Big Island

(UPDATE – Please see corrections provided by Kona resident Aaron Stene below)

Mayor Billy Kenoi invites the public to a ceremony this Saturday, June 23 when the County of Hawai‘i will bless the $30.5 million Ane Keohokālole Highway. The 2.5-mile highway will be open to traffic later Saturday afternoon.

The Keohokalole Family, descendants of Ane “Annie Keohokalole,” mother of Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and Leleiohoku, following a tour of the Ane Keohokalole Highway site. Second from left is family friend John DeFries, president of Hokulia.

Ane Keohokālole Highway runs parallel and about a mile mauka of the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina Lani Street in Kaloko. It is named after the mother of Lili‘uokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom. A large portion of the land for the highway was donated by the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust.

“The Ane Keohokālole Highway is an incredible example of teamwork and cooperation between government, the private sector and cultural and environmental organizations,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “But most importantly, it could not have been accomplished without the support of our West Hawai‘i community.”

The $30.5 million highway represents the largest expenditure of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act money in Hawai‘i. It is also the first major road in Kona to be built by Hawai‘i County since statehood. Ground was broken on the first phase on March 30, 2011, and was originally planned as a mile and a half of highway from Palani Road to the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

The county notified the Hawai‘i Island Burial Council and Native Hawaiian community early on in the process, and worked closely with cultural descendants to ensure proper treatment of Native Hawaiian remains if found along the corridor. Working with Federal Highways Administration officials, a project team was able to make design modifications that assured the remains were preserved in place.

Project planner Belt Collins Hawai‘i worked on the design of the highway in parallel with the environmental and cultural processes. In November 2010, the project received a finding of no significant impact. The process, which normally takes as long as two years, was accomplished in eight months.

Put out to bid in December 2010, the construction contract was awarded to Nan Inc. of Honolulu and called for two lanes from Palani Road to Kealakehe Parkway, as well as the ground work for a future phase from Kealakehe Parkway to Hina Lani Street. But deft management of the project by the County’s Department of Public Works saved almost $3 million, and that was applied to the cost of finishing an additional mile, linking the road to Hina Lani Street.

“The connection to Hina Lani Street is a tremendous addition to this project,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This highway will make an immediate and lasting positive impact on West Hawai‘i residents who have long deserved traffic relief.”

Ane Keohokālole Highway will also facilitate the development of the state’s Kamakana Village affordable-housing project, commercial development by the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust to support children’s programs, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ expansion of La‘i‘ōpua Village and its planned community center.

It is also good news for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, shopping and play. County Mass Transit has committed to establish a Hele-On bus loop using Ane Keohokālole Highway and the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway.

“We haven’t just built a road,” said Mayor Kenoi. “By opening up opportunities for affordable homes, shelters for the homeless, places to work and play, a way to get to college, commuter buses and bike paths, we are facilitating the creation of a safe and vibrant community.”

The Ane Keohokālole Highway project also involves preservation efforts at each end of the road. An interpretive center is being built at the Palani Road end of the project, while an initiative to preserve one of Hawai‘i’s last remaining dryland forests is taking place at the Hina Lani Street intersection.

Saturday’s blessing ceremony begins at noon at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center and is open to the public. The ceremony will include representatives from each ahupua‘a the road runs through, as well as members of the Keohokālole family. Lunch will be served. For more information, or to request special accommodations, please call the Mayor’s Office at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center at (808) 323-4444.

Corrections provided by Aaron Stene:

  1. The cost of constructing this highway was 29.9 million + 4 million allocated to reconstructing Palani Road.
  2. The entire highway is 3 miles (from Palani Road to Hina-Lani Street) of Palani Road was reconstructed between Henry Street and Queen Kaahumanu
  3. Ground was broken on March 30, 2010
  4. EA FONSI finding was announced in November 2009
  5. The project was put out to bid in December 2009

Another Mile of Ane Keohokalole Highway to be Completed

The County of Hawai`i and contractor Nan Inc. have entered into a $3.24 million agreement that will complete an additional mile of Ane Keohokalole Highway.

The Keohokalole Family, descendants of Ane "Annie Keohokalole," mother of Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and Leleiohoku, following a tour of the Ane Keohokalole Highway site. Second from left is family friend John DeFries, president of Hokulia.

This will be a road parallel and about a mile mauka of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina-Lani Street in Kaloko. The entire two and a half miles of highway is scheduled to open at the same time in May.

“Public Works has done an incredible job at keeping this project on time and under budget,” said Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Because of this, we are in position to build another mile of road.”

Native Hawaiian descendants and government officials visit an ancient cave in the path of the Ane Keohokalole Highway. Lead archaeologist Rowland Reeve of Pacific Legacy, right, provides interpretation.

The additional mile of highway will consist of two lanes with a concrete surface and enough space to expand to four lanes. There will also be some resurfacing work at Hina-Lani Street as well as added left-turn pockets.

This expanded highway will open at the best possible time. The state’s Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway widening project between Honokohau Harbor and Kona International Airport will no doubt cause traffic delays, and a completed Ane Keohokalole Highway will give motorists an alternative route when traffic is heavy.

It is also good news for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, shopping and play. County Mass Transit has committed to establish a transit bus loop using Ane Keohokalole Highway and the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway.

Archaeologist Rowland Reeve discusses a test pit in the kauhale area of the Ane Keohokalole Highway. Both the county and the landowner, Queen Liliuokalani Trust, sought additional assurances that no human remains were in the area before construction on the highway began. In the photo above, a cairn was excavated and found to be a mound of stones created when farmers cleared the surrounding farmable lands.

Ground was broken on the first phase of the $29.9 million Ane Keohokalole Highway project on March 30, 2010, and was originally planned as a mile and a half of highway from Palani Road to the West Hawai`i Civic Center. The project represents not only the largest expenditure of federal stimulus money in Hawai’i, it also is one of the first major roads to be built by Hawai`i County in Kona since statehood.

The project, awarded to Nan Inc. of Honolulu, also involves two preservation efforts at each end of the road. An interpretive center and cultural preservation area valued at more than $3 million is being built by Queen Liliuokalani Trust at the Palani Road end of the project, while a $500,000 partnership between the county, Stanford Carr Developments and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve one of Hawai`i’s last remaining dryland forests is underway at the Hina-Lani Street intersection.

Ane Keohokalole Highway will also facilitate the state’s development of the state’s Kamakana Village affordable-housing project, commercial development by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust to support children’s programs, and the Department of Hawai`ian Home Lands’ expansion of Laiopua Village and its planned community center.

“We are not just building a road,” said Mayor Kenoi. “With affordable homes, shelters for the homeless, places to work and play, a way to get to college, commuter buses and bike paths we are facilitating the creation of a safe and vibrant community.”

Mayor Kenoi’s 2011 Testimony to the Hawaii Legislature

From the Mayor’s Office:

Aloha, Chair Ige, Chair Oshiro and distinguished members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Finance Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to outline our priorities on issues important to the County of Hawai’i in 2011.

We have all heard a great deal in recent weeks about the budget challenges confronting the state, and the County of Hawai’i continues to chart its way through equally challenging budget difficulties.  Declining property revenues and increasing costs forced the county to cope with the largest budget shortfalls in County history in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and in the current budget year.

For the coming year, we project yet another budget shortfall that will once again force us to make painful budget cuts. The unavoidable truth is we now have a county government that we cannot afford. We will continue to reduce the size and cost of government, and to refocus our limited resources on core, critical services. Government must do more with less, and programs that are not essential to our core county mission must be set aside.

Despite our difficulties, we see reason for hope, and we see opportunities. Earlier this month, this committee heard testimony from leading economists Paul Brewbaker and Carl Bonham that funding capital improvement projects and investing in public infrastructure is a key government strategy for stimulating private sector economic activity as we begin to emerge from the recession. We agree, and in the County of Hawai’i we have taken a number of steps to push out construction projects to stimulate the economy.

Last October we asked the Hawai’i County Council to authorize $56 million in new general obligation bonds to build critically needed projects to ease traffic congestion in Kona and Hilo, including the Kapiolani Extension to help the University of Hawai’i at Hilo to grow; to build badly needed parks for our youth in Puna and Kohala; and to build affordable housing in Kona.

Moving forward with these critically needed infrastructure projects during this challenging economic time offers a variety of benefits. Borrowing costs for governments with good credit ratings are near all-time lows, which means taxpayers will pay less in interest. Meanwhile, the construction industry nationwide is struggling, which has caused construction companies to bid aggressively for government contracts. Bid prices have plummeted, and this highly competitive environment means the taxpayers today are getting the best possible prices on public works projects while governments invest in critically needed infrastructure such as airports, harbors, roads and bridges.

We know that tourism arrivals and visitor spending are showing early signs of a recovery, including the milestone announcement that Continental Airlines will soon begin daily direct flights from Los Angeles to Hilo. But we also know people who are still struggling to make ends meet in this economy, and many of them work in the construction industry. We cannot sit back and watch as our working families suffer through some of the worst economic times in County history.

This is the time for state and local governments to make an investment in our communities. We want to carry forward the momentum created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which injected more than $115 million in new federal dollars into the County of Hawai’i economy alone. These federal projects paid immediate dividends in jobs created, and work completed. Now it is time for local governments to step up to their responsibilities, and do their part to help stimulate the economy. Our working families are counting on us.

As you consider which state projects to put forward, we hope you will consider our input on some proposals we believe will be of particular benefit to our citizens, and will help stimulate the economy.  We hope your committee will consider including these projects in a state construction stimulus package because they advance key community objectives, including improving health care, relieving traffic congestion, protecting public safety and encouraging growth of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

Kapiolani Street Extension, $8.7 million

We continue to seek your support for the efforts of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and our community college system to grow as part of a larger strategy to use higher education as an economic engine. The university is now the second largest employer in East Hawai’i, and we ask for your support as we seek to position UH Hilo for continued growth. We also urge the Legislature to support State plans for the long-awaited permanent community college site in West Hawai’i.

The Kapiolani Street Extension project will lay the groundwork for a new era of growth with UH Hilo by providing a connector road that will open up 42 acres on land in urban Hilo for development of badly needed student housing. The single largest impediment to growth for UH Hilo is a lack of housing for out-of-state and local students, and the university owns land next to campus where this housing can be built. The Kapiolani Street Extension will provide access to these lands while also providing a new two-lane transportation corridor that will ease traffic congestion.

Mid-Level Road (Ane Keohokalole Highway), Kona

Ane Keohokalole Highway will be a six-mile arterial from Palani Road in Kailua-Kona to Kalaoa, mauka of Kona International Airport. The new arterial will stimulate the construction of thousands of homes (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, affordable and market), commercial development, healthcare and recreational facilities. Construction funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is already well underway on the first phase of Ane Keohokalole from Palani Road to Kealakehe Parkway, and will comprise 11,000 feet of two-lane highway. An additional 5,000-foot segment from Kealakehe Parkway to Hina Lani Street has already been rough graded.

Also known as the Mid-Level Road, this project will relieve congestion on the crowded Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. The completed road will provide an alternative route between the town of Kailua-Kona, through an area slated for urban development to a large commercial and light industrial area near Kona International Airport. It will also provide an alternate route to the airport, and when completed will connect Hina Lani Street with a new access road to the future University of Hawai’i’s West Hawai’i community college campus.

The Legislature previously appropriated $15 million in state funds for the Ane Keohokalole project that has not yet been released by the state Department of Transportation. We ask that your committees support the release of those monies through a resolution or a new appropriation if needed to make these funds available for Ane Keoholalole Phase 2 from Hina-Lani to Kaiminani. These funds would cover the cost of paving the area that is rough graded as well as further improvements that will benefit the La’i ’Opua 2020 project supported by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. It would also cover the cost of an environmental assessment, engineering and design work for Phase 2.

Improvements to Highway 130, Kea’au-to-Pahoa Road

The state has identified five intersections across the state with the highest numbers of accidents and the highest numbers of serious accidents, and four of those intersections are on this road. The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) includes $3 million for design work and $100,000 to purchase portions of the right-of-way for major improvements to this heavily traveled and highly congested roadway, and a $600,000 state appropriation is needed as a match to the federal funding for that design work. The state is also planning $2 million in more near-term improvements to the intersection of the highway and Old Government Road at the main entrance to Pahoa, and a $200,000 state appropriation is needed as a state match for that project.

North Kona Well, $1.3 million

The County also supports efforts by the Department of Water Supply to improve the quality and reliability of the North Kona water system by constructing a new well. This is part of a much larger effort to shift from low-level water sources to higher elevation sources, and to this end the Department of Water Supply has already allocated nearly $30 million for water system improvements in the region. The existing water system is barely able to meet the current water demand.

Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, $10 million

(Hawaii Health Systems Corporation)

The Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room was built to accommodate 10,000 patient visits per year, and is now seeing more than 18,000 visits per year. The emergency department needs to be expanded and modernized to improve patient access, flow and privacy to provide for a better working environment for staff, and the County supports HHSC’s efforts to make this essential improvement. In addition, the aging hospital urgently needs improvements to its roofs, parking lots, fire sprinkler and emergency generator systems.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with all of our distinguished state legislators as we navigate the challenging economic environment that lies ahead. Mahalo for your support and your commitment to our community.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi

MAYOR

$35 Million Ane Keohokalole Highway Funded

Media Release:

The Federal Highways Administration and the Hawaii State Department of Transportation have authorized Hawaii County to build the Ane Keohokalole Highway using $35 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Hawaii County now has five years to complete the initial phase of  what is also referred to as the Mid-Level Road, a 1.7- mile roadway from the intersection of Palani Road and Henry Street to Kealakehe Parkway, and a third of a mile of improvements on Palani Road between Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Henry Street. Should bids be favorable, the project could also include rough grading between Kealakehe Parkway and Hina-Lani Street.

“Ane Keohokalole Highway is the number one priority of this administration in West Hawaii,” said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We know how important infrastructure improvements are to our community, and we also recognize the significance of this project to the future of Kailua-Kona, West Hawaii and our Hawaii Island.”

Also known as the Mid-Level Road, the initial phase of the project creates a two-lane, limited-access roadway that runs parallel to Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The road will also include bike lanes, sidewalks, a multi-use path and be used as a transit route by the county’s Hele-On Bus service.

In addition to alleviating traffic on Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Palani Road, the Ane Keohokalole Highway facilitates the state’s development of Kamakana Village, an affordable housing project, commercial development by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust to support its children’s programs across the state, and further expansion of Laiopua Village by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

In addition, the highway assists the development of Laiopua 2020’s planned community center, and furthers the efforts of Kamehameha Schools to build a pre-school, West Hawaii Health Center to create a permanent clinic, and County Parks and Recreation to develop a regional park at the site of the former planned municipal golf course.

Ane Keohokalole Highway also creates easier access to the new Kona Civic Center, now being built at the intersection of the highway and Kealakehe Parkway. As federal funds become available, plans call for this road to extend northward toward the future University of Hawaii-West Hawaii Center.

“This isn’t so much about building a highway as it is about building a safe and healthy community,” said Kenoi. “Access to jobs, education, health centers and recreation can only strengthen our community.”

Brennon Morioka, State Transportation Director, agreed with Kenoi. “This project shows the commitment by government that it no longer just wants to build roads but be a part of building communities,” Morioka said. “This road is not just asphalt and concrete but represents opportunity that would not be available if not for the hard work of the many partners on this project.”

Kenoi praised the efforts of the community, partners, State and County officials who worked hard to meet deadlines and qualify for ARRA stimulus funds. A steering committee made up of Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau, Public Works Director Warren Lee and Executive Assistant Bobby Command worked with consultant Belt Collins Hawaii to complete an environmental assessment, design and engineering for this road.

“These people did what has never been done before in Hawaii County,” said Kenoi. “In less than a year, they took a dotted line on a map and brought it to the point where construction can begin.”

Furthermore, the team worked closely with the Hawaii Island Burial Council and Native Hawaiian community. There are known burials in the area of potential impact, and all will be preserved in place. The County notified the burial council early on in the process, and worked closely with cultural descendants to ensure they were comfortable with the treatment of the iwi.

In addition to the burial issue, the Federal Highways Administration agreed with Hawaii County to set aside about 10 percent of the stimulus funds on a 25-acre area established by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust to preserve and protect archaeological sites along Palani Road. This preserve area, on the trust’s property, will be celebrated with an interpretive center where children, residents and visitors can learn about a once vibrant agricultural community in this part of Hawaii.

It was the Queen Liliuokalani Trust that donated the property for most of the first phase of this highway, named after Ane Keohokalole, mother of Liliuokalani. Hawaii County worked closely with the trust and descendants of Ane Keohokalole, who recommended respectful treatment and protocol for the treatment of cultural sites and Native Hawaiian iwi.

“Ane Keohokalole Highway is a much-needed connector road that will benefit two of our Native Hawaiian Trusts in Kona ‘Akau, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Queen Liliuokalani Trust, as well as island residents,” Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairperson Haunani Apoliona said.

“OHA looks forward to working with Hawaii County and the people of Kona. We congratulate Mayor Billy Kenoi and the citizens of Hawaii County for the hard work and good effort that went into making Ane Keohokalole Highway a reality,” she said.

Karen Seddon, Executive Director of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) said the highway paves the way for the Kamakana Vilages at Keahuolu.

“The Ane Keohokalole Highway project further advances our efforts with Forest City to build the necessary infrastructure to deliver over 1,000 new homes which are affordable to Hawaii’s workforce and lower income households,” said Seddon.

“Public-private partnerships such as this are vital to providing affordable housing opportunities and this is a perfect example of government agencies partnering with an experienced developer to help improve the quality of life for the people of Kona,” she said.

The county today advertised requests for bids on the project. A pre-bid meeting will be held on Dec. 3, and bids are scheduled to be opened on Dec. 30.  The County has 30 days to formalize a deal with the contractor. Once that is completed, the contractor has up to 45 days to begin work. It is estimated that this project will take about two years to complete.