WAILUA — The state House Finance Committee wrapped up a two-day tour of Kaua‘i last week, its first collective trip to Kaua‘i since 2006.
Led by Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the group convened a community forum Wednesday evening at the Aloha Beach Resort in Wailua where residents had an opportunity to listen to his explanation of the 2011 state budget as well as voice concerns.
The forum followed a closed meeting with the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, the Lihu‘e Business Association and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau.
Also on the agenda was a short presentation by Ray McCormick of the state Department of Transportation, Highways Division, on the status of highway construction, primarily the recently completed Wailua Cane Haul Bridge and the ongoing Kaumuali‘i Highway expansion south of Lihu‘e. The Kaumuali‘i Highway expansion is anticipated to be completed in April or May of 2012, he said.
McCormick said a more complete highways update will be addressed in October when the division head will be on Kaua‘i for a meeting.
However, Kaua‘i will not be out of highway construction as the expansion of the Lihu‘e Mill Bridge to four lanes, two outbound and two inbound, will come on the heels of the Kaumuali‘i Highway expansion. The realignment of Ho‘omana Road leading to the Lihu‘e Lutheran Church, or German Hill, will also be part of the Improvements to Kaumuali‘i Highway.
The Anonui Street to Maluhia Road expansion has not been funded, but when money comes through, it is anticipated to take about 10 years, he said.
“Your legislative team has done well for Kaua‘i,” Oshiro said. “They collectively secured approximately $138 million over two years (excluding statewide and lump sum funding) in Capital Improvement Projects in the House Budget.”
The breakdown of the Kaua‘i CIP include $116 million for transportation projects, $17 million for educational facilities and $3.4 million for improvements at state parks and recreational facilities, some of these sites being on the agenda of visits by the House Finance Committee during its Kaua‘i trip.
Transportation CIP projects include $20.5 million for airfield improvements at Lihu‘e Airport, $16.4 million for a new Kapa‘a bypass off Kuhio Highway, $10 million for the replacement of Wainiha Bridge, $9.1 million for ticket lobby improvements at Lihu‘e Airport, $8 million for renovation and repaving from Mile Marker 18 to the Kalalau Lookout and $6.9 million for the replacement of Kapaia Bridge on Kuhio Highway.
A new gym at Kaua‘i High School tops the educational facilities CIP at $10.9 million and is joined by $6 million for a new library at Kapa‘a Elementary School.
State park and recreational facilities improvement CIP projects include $1.4 million for the removal of sand from the east side of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor, $1 million for the repair and reinforcement of the Hanalei River breach and $500,000 for the upgrade and resurfacing of the Kaua‘i Raceway Park in Mana, a facility which impressed the group during its visit due to the family atmosphere at the drag race events that take place on the facility located on state land.
The Kaua‘i legislative team is comprised of Reps. James Tokioka, Derek Kawakami, Dee Morikawa and Sen. Ron Kouchi.
Oshiro said in addition to the team’s work, Tokioka and Kouchi collaborated in securing funding to run the contra flow traffic program on Saturdays for the Kapa‘a-to-Lihu‘e corridor.
During the committee’s stay, they met with representatives of Koke‘e, the Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital, the Hindu monastery and Jerry Ornellas, representing the East Kaua‘i water program, the Waipa Foundation and the Haraguchi Rice Mill.