Lihu’e Helicopter improvements receive environmental approval

A state Department of Transportation proposal for helicopter improvements at the Lihu’e Airport has gotten the green light from the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

The proposed work at the interim heliport is intended to provide more efficient and safer tour helicopter operations at the airport.

The proposed work would be the first done at the airport in 12 years.

As part of the final environmental assessment process, the state agency recently declared a finding of no significant impact for the proposed work.

The Office of Environmental’s primary goal is to stimulate, expand and coordinate efforts to maintain the optimum quality of the state’s environment, agency officials said.

The main projects call for preparation for ten leased lots and their construction for use by helicopter operators, employee parking and public parking, two take-off and landing areas and four new helicopter aprons.

The work will start once the bidding process is completed and the contractor has been selected, DOT officials said. The work is anticipated to take about 12 months.

As a courtesy, the DOT will secure building permits from the Kaua’i County Planning Department for the work.

The biggest impact will be the grading, but the contractor will be required to mitigate dust from the work.

The improvements will benefit existing eight companies that operate at the heliport.

All the operators have permits that can be revoked with 30-days’ notice. None of the operators has a long-term lease because they operate at an interim airport.

The facility currently has 20 landing pads.

The last helicopter improvements at the airport were done in 1990 and involved a refueling project.

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