$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.

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