Kaua‘i County is proposing to build the third phase of a bicycle and pedestrian pathway mostly along the coastline from the Aloha Beach Resort in Wailua to the Waika‘ea Canal in Kapa‘a.
The only deviations would be a mauka, or mountainside, alignment from Kuhio Highway to Nonou Road in Wailua Houselots and another mauka pathway to run along the Waipouli Drainage Canal, behind the Waipouli Town Center, to the Uhelekawawa Canal and then back to Kuhio Highway.
Honolulu consultant Kimura International identified the 2-mile alignment over three other alignments proposed in a draft environmental assessment.
The consultant firm has recommended the proposed alignment because it felt it would “optimize project objectives,” meaning providing a safe route for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users.
If built, the segment would connect to a completed 2.3-mile segment by Lydgate Park and a 4.5-mile segment from Waika‘ea Canal to Ahihi Point in Kealia.
Work on the second portion has come to a halt, pending resolution over permits for six rest pavilions and compliance with government shoreline requirements.
The third leg, proposed to be built by the county, is expected to boost tourism, Kimura International states in the final environmental assessment.
“Given the regional scope of the path system and its scenic quality, it could emerge as one of Kaua‘i’s leading visitor attractions,” the report states.
If all the work is completed, the three phases would amount to nearly 9 miles of connected roadway to provide recreational opportunities for residents.
While some critics have questioned whether all five or six segments of the 16-mile pathway project from Ahukini to Anahola can be connected, Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration has remained steadfast in its belief all sections will be linked.
The consultant said the proposed Lydgate Park-Kapa‘a bike and pedestrian path alignment starts at Aloha Beach Resort and continues north on a plantation bridge that will boast two northbound lanes and a pedestrian and bicycle path.
North of the old Seashell Restaurant, the alignment will follow Papaloa Road, then turn mauka at Lanikai Street.
The consultant said a traffic signal light is planned to be installed at the intersection of that street and the highway to facilitate crossing the highway.
Once on the mauka side of the highway, the pathway will head northward on an old plantationroad.
After users cross a temporary bypass road, they can either continue northward on a pathway to Eggerking Road to Nonou Road in Wailua Houselots, or they can continue traveling along the Waipouli Drainage Canal and then on the southern bank of the Uhelekawawa Canal to Kuhio Highway.
The pathway will make its way to the makai side of the highway and then on Ala Road, Niulani Street and Moanakai Road before ending at the Waika‘ea Canal.
The project proposes two coastline spurs — one that runs northward on Papaloa Road and one that starts north of the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy, where new resorts are planned.
The consultant said this spur will provide access from the Waipouli coast resort area to the Waipouli Town Center and Kaua‘i Shopping Village, the two biggest shopping centers in the Kawaihau District.
The pathway, to be constructed from concrete with graded shoulders, will be 10 to 12 feet wide, allowing travel in both directions, the consultant said.
Motorized vehicles will not be allowed on the pathway, except for motorized wheelchairs and emergency and maintenance vehicles, the consultant said.
Unlike other sections of the coastal project, this pathway will not feature comfort stations, pavilions, picnic areas or new parking areas.
Landscaping, signs and the placement of trash receptacles and benches may be possible though, and a decision to incorporate these features will be made during the final design, the consultant said.
The consultant said three other alignments were considered in the draft environmental assessment:
• A shoreline pathway from the Wailua River to the Uhelekawawa Canal, turning inland around the Kapa‘a Shores Condominium project, then working back to Niulani Road and Moanakai Road to the Waika‘ea Canal.
• A pathway starting north at the old Seashell Restaurant and continuing on Papaloa Road to the Coconut Marketplace to Aleka Loop.
Plans called for building a widened sidewalk next to the highway that would continue to Ala Road. From there, the path would traverse Niulani Road and Moanakai Road to the canal.
• A pathway that would run adjacent to a canal around the Coco Palms Resort and continue across Haleilio Road.
The pathway would continue on a former agricultural road thorough property owned by the trust of movie star and singer Bette Midler and then along the Waipouli Drainage Canal to the Uhelekawawa Canal.
Where existing development presses against the canal, leaving inadequate space for the path, the roadway would be built on the mauka side of the highway, the consultant said.
Additional mauka spurs were proposed along the Waika‘ea Canal as well, but the main alignment would turn makai down Kaleloku Road to Lihi Park, the consultant said.
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration has provided, in part, the funding for the project.
More than $30 million in federal funds are likely to be used for the entire 16-mile coastline pathway.
The value of donated land for the project will enable the county to leverage more federal funds for the project, if they are available, county officials said.
Copies of the final environmental study should be available at the Lihu‘e Public Library.
• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or firstname.lastname@example.org.