Paperwork glitch delays opening of Puhi bypass

LIHU’E – A new-road blessing turned into a false start yesterday when the county paperwork for the opening of several Grove Farm Co.-developed roads wasn’t completed on time.

In order for Grove Farm representatives to turn over the new roads to the county, Kaneka Street and Nuhou Street have to be formally turned over to the county through paperwork known as a right of entry agreement.

That paperwork is moving through county government, but reached Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s desk too late this week to be put on the County Council agenda this week for the necessary, final county approval.

A special council meeting now scheduled for 8:45 a.m. Thursday, March 20 with one item on the agenda – approving the “right of entry agreement” that gives the county control of Nuhou, Kaneka and Ulu Maika streets.

The roads are ready to accept vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and Friday’s blessing ceremony was supposed to be a formality before the cutting of the maile lei and ceremonial first vehicle trips down the new pavement, but now the roads can’t be officially open until next week.

The four-lane Nuhou Street runs from Kaumuali’i Highway near the middle school, connecting with Pikake Street near the Kukui Grove Park and Pavilion, providing an alternate route around Kukui Grove Center and into Lihu’e and Nawiliwili.

The two-lane Kaneka Street runs from its intersection with Nuhou behind the school, all the way to Puhi Road. It is expected to provide an alternate route in and out of Lihu’e and Puhi, though some parents with children at the middle school are already expressing concerns about potential congestion at the middle school during the start of school weekday mornings, and the end of school weekday afternoons.

Parents traveling toward Lihu’e on Kaneka Street have to turn left into the school’s rear parking lot to drop off children in the morning, and are worried that with only one lane of traffic along Kaneka in each direction the left-turning vehicles will cause traffic behind those turning vehicles to pile up.

When the new roads eventually open next week, parking will be prohibited along the lengths of both streets.

School officials sent home with students a map and information about traffic flow, in anticipation of the roads opening Friday.

“We should be opening this up today,” Mayor Bryan Baptiste said, accepting responsibility for the delay. “It won’t happen again.”

Around 50 people turned out Friday morning for what was supposed to be the road blessing, dedication and opening.

Laurie Yoshida, Gov. Linda Lingle’s Kaua’i liaison, read a proclamation from Lingle, wherein the governor said the new roads “should provide significant traffic relief” by taking vehicles off of congested Kaumuali’i Highway near Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

“We look forward to the opening of this road,” said David Pratt, Grove Farm president. He thanked neighbors for their patience during the construction period, and thanked representatives of various state and county agencies for their cooperation.

The new roads, which cost around $5 million to develop, went from design to completion in just a year, Pratt said.

Ulu Maika Street is one of the streets that will border Home Depot, the site of which is under construction now.

Grove Farm representatives could have chosen to open the roads as private thoroughfares, but didn’t, and won’t, because of liability concerns, explained Mike Furukawa, Grove Farm vice president.

Allan Smith, another Grove Farm vice president, thanked general contractor Kiewit Pacific Company for a “job well done.”

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at or 245-3681 (ext. 224).


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