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Commentary – National Park Service & Queen Kaahumanu Highway Frontage Road

The Kona Community Development Plan has a frontage road going from Honokohau Harbor to Kona Int’l Airport alongside Queen Kaahumanu Highway. One of the segments is completed, and another should be completed within the next three months. These are being constructed by NELHA and the Kohanaiki Shores development.

Aerial View of Kaloko Fishpond at Kaloko-Honokohau National Park

The three remaining unfinished roadway segments go through Hawaii Department of Transportation, privately owned, and Kaloko-Honokohau National Park lands. One of these landowners, the National Park Service, will pose a challenge to completing the entire frontage road. They’ve stated a road can’t bisect the park because it will negatively impact the park’s resources.

I respect the National Park Service’s concerns, but extending this roadway between Kohanaiki Shores to Kealakehe Parkway could be a win-win for the park and the community. If this road is constructed, it will eventually give the community an alternative route between the airport and Honokohau Harbor.

This road will also help in traffic circulation and provide an alternative route if there is a traffic accident on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. It will also help the National Park Service by providing better accessibility to park resources and allow them to do more interpretive outreach with park visitors. This would be particularly effective if this proposed roadway follows the alignment of the Ala Mamalahoa Trail through the park.

The National Park Service’s opposition towards this roadway extension can’t be understated, but I propose these following conditions to allay their longstanding concerns. The roadway segment going through the National Park would limited to two lanes with narrow shoulders to reduce its footprint on the sensitive historical resources.  In addition, a thorough analysis of these potential alignments should be conducted. The alignment with the least impact on historical and environmental resources should be selected.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona