LIHUE — Gerald Gongob was happy, silently wheeling his motorized wheelchair on the smooth concrete Friday afternoon.
“Oh yeah,” said Gongob, a six-year resident of Lihue Court. “Oh yeah. This saves me the trouble of going around. I can use this path to catch the bus without having to go all around.”
Gongob was tooling his way home from Rice Street on the Shared Use Path, which was blessed and dedicated Friday by representatives of the County of Kauai and residents of the neighboring housing projects.
The $242,000 project, funded through a Community Development Block Grant, started in February with the bulk of the work being done by Earthworks Pacific in about four to six weeks, said John Mark Palacios, project manager.
“I don’t have a car, so this is very practical,” said a Lihue Court resident known as Mr. Hill. “This is an impressive thing and very convenient because I go to Smiley’s to eat. I also have to catch the bus and having this, and the lighted crosswalk on Rice Street is very convenient.”
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said the Hoala Street Shared Use Path is just another way to connect people, families, and businesses.
Former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka said Lihue Court was started after she met a lady with a baby who was living at Anini Beach. She said the Shared Use Path is an upgrade for the community.
“A lot of people have misunderstandings about paths,” Kusaka said. “Paths are not meant to take cars off the road. Paths provide healthy and recreational accessibility — especially for kids. The lighted crosswalk on Rice Street is part of the Safe Routes to School.”
Doris Yamamoto, a resident at the Kaniko‘o senior housing project, said she will use the Shared Use Path a lot.
“I used to walk on the grass trying to get to Ace Hardware,” she said. “It’s better, now with the concrete, and they said we’re supposed to get sidewalks (along Hoala Street) once the senior housing is done.”