Improving the heart of Kauai

LIHUE — Over 50 people attended an open house last week on the Lihue Town Core Revitalization Project.

“This is the heart of Kauai,” said Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. “This opens the door for us to transform our community to walk-able, bike-able streets and a connected community.”

For four hours, county staff — from Mike Dahilig, director of the Planning Department, to Lee Steinmetz, director of the Transportation Department — answered questions about six projects aimed at improving the Lihue Town Core.

The presentation was held at the Piikoi Building atrium.

The point of Thursday’s meeting was to get input from the community, Dahilig said.

“What we’re going through right now is having public meetings and discussion, before we start putting things on paper,” he said.

The county is on a tight timeline to get all six projects done — everything has to be finished by 2021, Dahilig said.

The projects were made possible due to a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant, given by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kauai County received $13.8 million in TIGER money in October 2015.

“The primary piece of TIGER is economic revitalization. It’s a transportation project, but how can transportation contribute to economic revitalization?” Steinmetz said. “That’s what we’re trying to work out, and that’s why there’s changes to Rice Street and adding connections to connect neighborhoods to schools, shopping and places of employment.”

The county is looking at mobility, he added.

“How do people get around?” he said. “People will always use cars, but there are people, who for various reasons can’t drive. That’s why we need to make sure that there’s mobility in our town core for everyone, regardless of how they get around. Whether that’s walking, biking or taking transit.”

Before construction can happen, the Kauai County Council needs to approve the projects. If approved, construction is expected to start in 2018, Steinmetz said.

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