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Improving livability

LIHUE — The goal is simple: improve living and commuting in the area.

And on Wednesday, those spearheading the $7.9 million project blessed the area they’re about to transform — thanks to a lot of help from federal grants.

“The project adds to the live-ability of this area,” said Michael Matsumoto of the engineer and design company SSFM during the Hardy Street ceremony at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. “The contractors, Earthworks Pacific, can’t wait to get into construction of the project.”

Eighty percent of the project will be funded through the federal Highway Administration funds, and 20 percent, or about $1.6 million, will come from the county.

The project will revamp a .7-mile stretch of road from Kuhio Highway and Rice Street and should improve traffic and pedestrian flow. Plans call for two travel lanes with a landscaped median, turn lanes, bike lanes on both sides of the street, on-street parking, planter strips and continuous sidewalks will run the length of Hardy Street.

Plans also call for installing a roundabout at the intersection of Umi and Hardy streets and an expanded bus shelter for the Kauai Bus next to the Lihue Civic Center.

Those elements fulfill Hawaii’s Complete Streets law, which requires roadways be accessible to all types of users, not just cars.

The design phase began in October 2013. Next up is moving dirt. The project should break ground in the next couple of weeks.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in a release. “This is our first Complete Streets project, and I’d like to thank everyone who helped to bring it to fruition.”

Work will start at Hardy and Rice streets and continue in phases until the project is completed in the fall of 2015. The first phase to Kaana Street will not involve road closures.

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