Wednesday, May 18, 2022 |
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WAIPOULI – About the only good news to come out of a Kapaa Rotary Club meeting on progress of what is now being called the Kapa’a relief road (as opposed to bypass road) is that the state is in the process of acquiring a permanent right-of-way on the existing Kapa’a bypass road.
Glenn Kimura of Kimura International, Inc., a planning consultant hired by the state Department of Transportation Highways Division, announced to Rotarians and guests that the state has begun acquiring rights-of-way to make the Kapa’a bypass road from Waipouli to downtown Kapa’a a permanent state roadway.
Entertainer Bette Midler is among the owners of property on both sides of the road.
Kimura said his firm is in the early stages of a 36-month planning phase to come up with the best alignment or alignments for a road or roads designed to relieve Kuhio Highway traffic congestion between Hanama’ulu and Kealia.
A specific route or routes through Kapa’a have not yet been determined, he said.
Public input is crucial to the planning process, said Kimura.
The relief road or roads will be designed to accommodate traffic needs of the area through 2025, he explained.
Today, 1,930 vehicles go through the intersection of Kuamo’o Road and Kuhio Highway each hour, and by 2010 that figure is expected to reach 2,140, he said.
“We’re going to be very over capacity no matter what we do.”
A separate study is looking at short-term fixes to Eastside congestion problems, he continued.
Concerns already identified are congestion, displacement of residences and businesses, impacts on businesses if alternative routes around Wailua and Kapa’a are built, impacts on cultural sites, ways to cross the Wailua River, how to deal with tsunamis and hurricanes, the future of the former Coco Palms Resort, wetlands, flooding, and the emergence of new major landowners, he said.
This project has about all the potential problems a project can have, said Herb Lee of Lee Communications, another planning consultant.
Compounding problems with the planning process is the fact that the existing highway bridges over the Wailua River are, according to Kimura, “obsolete,” and in the tsunami inundation zone.
Kimura explained parts of the history of the Eastside Kuhio Highway relief roadway project, going back to 1996 when a draft environmental impact statement proposed three different scenarios: widening Kuhio Highway to four lanes through Wailua and Kapa’a; and building new, separate roadways through the coconut grove behind the old Coco Palms Resort, and another further mauka of the old resort.
In 1994, the different scenarios were projected to cost between $97 million and $160 million, he said to Rotarians and guests at the Kauai Coconut Beach Resort here.
Also in 1996, the project was put on hold due to a shortage of state funds. Between then and this year, the state secured additional federal funding for the project, and gave Kimura International the notice to proceed earlier this year on the three-year planning phase, he continued.
To build any road, he said, no fewer than 20 federal, state and county permits will be required.
The planning contractor is soliciting public input into the current, ongoing planning process. Those wishing to provide input can call Kimura International toll-free, 1-888-898-8886.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).
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