Delay announced in opening of Puhi relief roads

A pair of roads that a state engineer says will provide immediate, real relief from traffic congestion in the Puhi area are now scheduled to open toward the end of the month.

As of last week, there were “two solid weeks of work left” before completion of Nuhou and Kaneka streets, which together will provide a second route through congested Puhi, said Mike Furukawa, Grove Farm vice president.

Kaneka Street will run from Puhi Road, behind Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, connecting to Nuhou Street behind the school and running to Pikake Street behind Kukui Grove Center to Nawiliwili Road.

Weather woes delayed the road-building project, which Furukawa hoped would be done last month. In addition, concerns about conveying the private roadways to the county are an issue, he said.

“We are trying to convey the roads to the county as soon as possible,” so the public can use them, Furukawa added.

Steve Kyono, Kaua’i district engineer with the state Department of Transportation Highways Division, said the new route will provide immediate relief to some of the traffic congestion experienced most weekdays along Kaumuali’i Highway.

The new Kaneka Street, currently only a stub running immediately makai of the middle school, will when it opens, run all the way to Puhi Road, near the entrance to the Halenani Village apartments and Hokulei Estates homes near Puhi Industrial Park.

Nuhou Street, a part of which currently starts at Kaumuali’i Highway and ends behind the school as well, will be extended to meet an existing section of Nuhou near the Puako subdivision, forming a new, T-shaped intersection at Pikake Street, which runs to Nawiliwili Road behind Borders at the Kukui Grove Marketplace.

The $5 million plan, for around one mile of new roadway, will provide an alternative to congested Kaumuali’i, which is backed up most daylight weekday hours.

The state’s plan to expand Kaumuali’i to four lanes from Lihu’e to the Tree Tunnel (Maluhia Road) is moving along slower than expected, too.

Kyono told members of the Lihue Business Association meeting at Gaylord’s Restaurant at Kilohana that state officials are in the process of selecting a consultant to design the four-lane Kaumuali’i.

The first phase, from Lihu’e to an area near Kipu Road, won’t begin to be built right after the design is completed, even if funds are available, Kyono said.

The project was expected to be well into its two-year design phase by now, has not yet entered that phase. Following the design phase, about six months will be needed to allow for the construction bidding process, followed by two years of construction that will include a new bridge next to the existing highway bridge near the old Lihue Plantation mill area.

The total widening project on Kaumuali’i Highway, from Lihu’e to the Maluhia Road Tree Tunnel, is estimated to cost $150 million, with the first phase, making the highway four lanes from Lihu’e to Kipu Road on the west side of Puhi, a $40 million project, state engineers said earlier.

Other plans for state roadways in the Lihu’e area include signal improvements at the intersections of Nawiliwili Road and Kaumuali’i, Pikake, and Nuhou, Kyono said.

These are planned in the two-year state budget, which runs from July 1 this year through June 30, 2005.

A new, signalized intersection under construction now along Kapule Highway near the Kaua’i Veterans Center will mark the main entrance to both the new police station and a new state courthouse building (expected to begin construction soon), which will be an extension of existing Ka’ana Street.

Another plan would make the Rice Street intersection with Kapule near Gaspro and Gasco a “seamless” intersection, as the state did at the Kuhio Highway-Rice-Kaumuali’i intersection at the round building (Lihu’e Civic Center), Kyono said.

That project is moving toward selection of a consultant for the design phase, and calls for a signalized intersection in favor of the bulk of the traffic flow.

Another state project will expand Kuhio Highway to four lanes past the highway intersection at the entrance to Wal-Mart, so those motorists wishing to enter the Kaua’i Medical Clinic, Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Sun Village complexes are able to do so without having to merge into one Hanama’ulu-bound lane before turning onto ‘Eha Street entering the Wilcox Health and Sun Village complexes.

Further, the state plans to replace the Kuhio bridge over Hanama’ulu Stream near Immaculate Conception Church in Kapaia, said Kyono.

Jas W. Glover, Limited has been awarded a contract to resurface Kuhio from its beginning near the round building to Kuene Street, which is near the entrance to the Wilcox Hospital emergency room, then continuing down that route into Hanama’ulu, Kyono said.

Glover has also been awarded a state contract to resurface Ma’alo Road near its end by the Wailua Falls overlook.

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