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Makeovers by the millions

LIHUE — Kauai lawmakers secured over $60 million for projects across the island as part of the state budget passed by the House earlier this week.

The largest single amount, $20 million, was provided for airfield improvements at Lihue Airport, while additional funding was provided for road improvements and the construction of sheltered bus stops across the island.

Before the capital improvement project money is in hand, Senate lawmakers and Gov. David Ige must approve the financial plan.

“This is great news,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. wrote in a email on the House’s budget proposal. “We extend a big mahalo to our legislative team for securing the funding that will enable us to continue to move forward with our bus shelter project, which aims to provide shelters for all of our county bus stops. It’s all about teamwork.”

Plans are in place for the construction of 16 to 18 more shelters using the $600,000 provided by the state Legislature last year. About 25 additional shelters will be built with this year’s legislative funds, the mayor said.

In addition to the airport allotment, $10.6 million was set aside for land acquisition and improvements to Kuhio Highway near Kauai Community Correctional Center and Wailua Golf Course. Around $15 million would go to the replacement of Wainiha bridges 1, 2 and 3 along Kuhio Highway, while $4.3 million would be for guardrail and shoulder improvements on state highways.

About $1.4 million would be earmarked for replacing grease traps and other renovations at King Kaumualii Elementary School in Hanamaulu, while $1.5 million would be set aside for the construction of an outdoor playcourt at Waimea Canyon Middle School.

Ten other schools would also benefit from various repair projects, including $500,000 to replace the fire alarm system at Kapaa Elementary School.

The state’s public hospitals on Kauai would also be on the receiving end.

Scott McFarland, outgoing interim CEO for Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, said the $4 million earmarked for various improvements at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and West Kauai Medical Center is higher than past appropriations made to the state’s public hospitals on Kauai over the last two fiscal years and is greatly needed.

“It’s very balanced and we’re very appreciative that our state representatives are doing all they can to support infrastructure improvements at Mahelona and KVMH,” said McFarland, who noted that Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital staff are planning to celebrate the medical facility’s 100th anniversary. “Some of the same infrastructure that they opened with is still in use today. Therefore, the infrastructure improvements are critical for the hospital.”

KVMH would get $1.35 million for irrigation and electrical upgrades, while $700,000 would go to West Kauai Medical Center renovation work.

Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital would get $1.4 million for various improvements, including expanding the facility’s endoscopy suite, resurfacing parking lots, and renovating the psychiatric unit and nurses’ station.

Reps. Derek Kawakami, James “Jimmy” Kunane Tokioka and Daynette “Dee” Morikawa couldn’t be reached Monday.


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