State seeks comment on Kapa’a-Kealia bikepath

A 4.3-mile bicycle/pedestrian concrete path from Lihi Park in Kapa’a town to Ahihi Point in Kealia is moving closer to reality.

The state Office of Environmental Quality Control has reviewed the proposal by the Kaua’i County Public Works Department and, through a notice, has set Dec. 23 as the deadline for public comment.

The project is part of a larger three-phase project that calls for a pedestrian/bicycle pathway on 16 miles of coastline from Nawiliwili Harbor to Anahola.

When completed, the multi-phase project is intended to enhance recreational needs in the Kawaihau District, Kauai’s largest population area.

The proposed 4.3-mile project would allow the county to use a shoreline it owns in Kealia, the state agency said.

The shoreline is part of a 60-acre beachfront property the developers of the Kealia Kai subdivision donated to the county and which been converted into a county park.

The 4.3-mile project calls for a 12-foot-wide path that would be placed over an existing asphalt path in the Kapa’a town area and paving improvements to an existing cane haul road from Kapa’a to Ahihi Point.

Plans also call for bridges on the cane road to be improved and construction of pavilions, comfort stations and parking areas at Lihi Park and Kealia Beach Park.

A comfort station also will be built in a parking lot by a shoreline access path that runs through the Kealia Kai subdivision, the agency said.

Farther south from this proposed work, a parking and rest area will be built at the Kealia Lookout.

The project is to be developed at an estimated cost of $7 million, mostly with federal funds, county officials have said.

For the work, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai’i) also secured a $300,000 federal grant for an environmental assessment and environmental permitting, Doug Haigh, chief of the building division of the public works department, has said.

Work is anticipated to start next summer and be completed by summer 2004, Haigh has said.

In June, Kaua’i Builders began construction of the first phase, a 10-foot-wide concrete path along 2 miles of coastline at Lydgate Park.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which sets standards for the development of bike facilities in the nation, required a wider path for the second phase.

The first phase, which is being constructed with $2.6 million in federal funds, was poised to be completed in December.

The county’s matching share for the work was about $600,000, an amount the federal government agreed to as credit for donated community labor for the building of the Kamalani Kai Bridge at Lydgate Park, Haigh has said.

The two phases are part of a larger 16-mile bicycle and pedestrian walkway proposed along the coastline from Nawiliwili Harbor to Anahola. Parts of Kuhio Highway apparently would be used for some bicycling and walking between the two phases.

The larger project was identified in a statewide bicycle plan the state Department of Transportation developed in 1994.

No timetable has been set for work on the balance of the proposed 16-mile project, although a pathway will cross some private properties.

Public discussion on the large project began about five years ago, drawing support from Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, mayor-elect Bryan Baptiste and Kaipo Asing, the new chairman of the Kaua’i County Council, Friends of Kamalani and John Tanner, owner of Bicycle John.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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