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‘Historic day for Kauai’

LIHUE — Kauai County learned Monday it landed $13 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funds will be used for the revitalization of the Lihue Town Core.

“This is a historic day for Kauai,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. “It all started with a community vision and everyone working together.”

Many projects will be covered by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant. They include the addition of pedestrian and bike lanes on Rice Street, a shared-use path from the Lihue Civic Center to the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall and bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Hoolako Street.

In addition, the conversion of Eiwa Street to a transit hub will be completed, sidewalks will be installed on Hoala and Kalena streets, a bicycle boulevard will be added to Pualole and Malae streets, and transit services for the Lihue Civic Center will be expanded.

Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association, called the grant announcement great news. She said LBA will “assist in any way we can to make these funds pay huge dividends for the people of Kauai in the future.”

“Lihue is aptly called the Heart of Kauai,” she wrote in a letter of support for the grand application. “It is the county seat and home to the island’s airport, primary harbor, only institute of higher education, major hospital and commercial center. LBA is dedicated to creating a more prosperous and sustainable future for the Lihue District — economically, socially, culturally and environmentally.”

Hawaii’s congressional leaders voiced their support too.

“Securing this competitive grant was not easy,” wrote U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. “This is the first time our state has received a TIGER grant in four years, and we could not have done it without the support of Mayor Carvalho.”

In a congratulatory message, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “The TIGER grant program is highly competitive, so this award is a testament to the county administration’s depth of vision for Kauai’s future.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Kauai County has made great progress toward transforming and revitalizing Lihue.

“This funding will go a long way in continuing that progress,” said Gabbard. “Not only does this project create additional economic opportunities for Lihue and Kauai County, it also promotes the environmental sustainability of the Garden Isle by encouraging smarter, more viable community planning and expanding transportation options for residents and visitors.”

Gov. David Ige said the project will provide new and better jobs for local people and improve access to education, especially for disadvantaged populations.

“It is a model of sustainable transportation that can be replicated on other counties throughout Hawaii,” Ige said.

A tentative schedule has been set for all of the projects covered by the TIGER grant, which must be expended within five years.

The county will provide 15 percent in matching funds totaling about $2.5 million.

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