Waiting game continues for Koke’e Road fix

The good news is that Gov. Linda Lingle released $600,000 for improvements to the uppermost reaches of Koke’e Road in Koke’e State Park.

The bad news is that design of the improvements won’t take place until January of next year, with construction not expected until December 2006.

Of $900,000 released earlier this week by Lingle, $600,000 is for improvements of around two miles of Koke’e Road from the Koke’e Natural History Museum up to the parking lot of the Kalalau Lookout.

The repairs will be the first on this part of Koke’e Road since the 1970s, according to a spokesperson in Lingle’s office.

Narrow and curved sections of this roadway are deteriorated and pose unsafe driving conditions due to the increased traffic flow, the spokesperson said.

Improvements to Koke’e Road include widening the curved sections and other narrow corridors to improve visibility and safety, and to accommodate two-way traffic.

The other $300,000 is for preparation of an environmental impact statement, master plan and cultural assessment for Ha’ena State Park, necessary before improvements can take place, the spokesperson said.

The environmental impact statement will assess the impacts of traffic, parking, vehicular circulation, and improvements to the park’s facilities and infrastructure.

The master plan will identify, analyze, and develop recommendations for the management of current and future public use of the park.

The cultural assessment will develop interpretive opportunities that will provide visitors with an understanding of and increased appreciation for Hawaiian history.

An archaeological inventory, a burial treatment plan, a social-impact assessment, taro restoration report and botanical and fauna report, will all be updated as well.

The preparation of the environmental impact statement, master plan, and cultural assessment is expected to be completed by September 2007.

These reports are the first step in making necessary improvements to Ha’ena State Park to ensure the safety of the park’s estimated 750,000 annual visitors, the spokesperson said.

The projects are in line with leaders of the Lingle-Aiona administration’s multi-year, $15-million effort to upgrade and repair state parks statewide.

“The safety of those who visit Hawai’i’s parks is of the utmost importance to our administration,” said Lingle.

“Ha’ena and Koke’e State Parks must be made safe for all who wish to appreciate their natural beauty and historical significance.”

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