Bike-walk path from Kapa‘a to Kealia on track

Kaua‘i County is moving ahead with a 4.3-mile segment of a proposed pedestrian/bicycle path from Lihi Park in Kapa‘a town to Ahihi Point in Kealia.

The county issued a “finding of no significant impacts” for its environmental assessment, which was recently reviewed by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control on O‘ahu.

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.

The larger project was first advocated by Mayor Bryan Baptiste when he was on the Kaua‘i County Council in the late 1990s, council chair Kaipo Asing and by John Tanner of Bicycle John, the oldest bicycle company on Kaua‘i, and residents.

When completed, the 16-mile, multi-phased road is expected to greatly enhance recreational opportunities for the Kawaihau District, the largest population center on Kaua‘i. Parts of 16-mile pathway already run through Lydgate Park, the largest regional park on the island.

The proposed 4.3-mile portion includes the area from the shoreline up to Kuhio Highway, officials with the Office of Environmental said in a report.

The pathway, when completed, would provide Kaua‘i County an alternate transportation route, a safer path for bicyclists and pedestrians and access to the East Kaua‘i beaches by the public, agency officials said.

The pathway, which would be 12 feet wide, involves improving an existing asphalt road and making pavement improvements on a former cane haul road from Kapa‘a to Ahihi Point in the northern part of Kealia.

A part of the work also involves improving cane haul road bridges on the coastline. Also planned to be built along the proposed 4.3 mile pathway are pavilions, comfort stations and park areas at Lihi Park and at Kealia Beach Park.

In addition, a comfort station will be placed at a parking lot serving a shoreline access path through the Kealia Kai subdivision.

A new parking area and rest area also are to be developed near the Kealia Lookout for recreational activities.

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

Additional funds came with the help of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai’i), who 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.

Two miles of the 16-mile pathway that this new stretch of pathway is part of has already been built at Lydgate Park at a cost of $2. 6 million in federal funds.

Parts of the proposed 16-mile path would be developed on private lands, and would require approval by landowners for work to occur over their properties, county officials have said.

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