LIHUE — The wait for a four-lane highway across the Lihue Mill Bridge will come to an end soon as state Department of Transportation officials prepare to reopen the final two lanes needed to complete the nearly two-year, $43.5 million project.
DOT officials will release details on the grand opening Friday.
“They were targeting for a completion date of April and it looks like we’re going to be on target,” said Sen. Ron Kouchi, D, Kauai-Niihau. “I have heard residents call from Lihue and I’ve certainly talked about traffic and everything else, so this is a very welcome event.”
Rep. James “Jimmy” Kunane Tokioka, D, Omao-Wailua Homesteads, lauded it as “the largest highway infrastructure improvement program that our island has seen in decades.”
“We know how frustrating the traffic in Lihue is for residents and tourists alike, and the re-opening of the Lihue Mill Bridge will play a large part in alleviating traffic in the Lihue corridor,” Tokioka wrote in an email. “This will make it easier for families to commute to school or work, or to just pass through Lihue.”
During the first week the bridge is opened, there will only be one inbound and outbound lane each across the Lihue Mill Bridge so that additional work can take place, Kouchi said. An additional inbound lane, he added, should be freed up several weeks afterward.
All four lanes should be opened up by the end of the month.
Construction on the 0.7-mile stretch of Kaumualii Highway between Nawiliwili Road and Rice Street began in February 2013 to improve traffic flow at the bend in Kaumualii Highway just west of the Rice Street intersection by building a new two-lane bridge parallel to the historic, 79-year-old Lihue Mill Bridge.
The multi-year project included reconstructing the original structure that was built in 1936, as well as upgrading the drainage and waterline systems in the area; creating dedicated turn lanes onto Hoomana Road leading to German Hill; and realigning a short section of Hoomana Road.
About $39 million in improvements, including the new Lihue Mill Bridge on the mauka side of Kaumualii Highway, along with infrastructure upgrades at Nawiliwili, Uahi, and Hoomana Roads, were unveiled last August when work shifted to the bridge.