Kauai gets funding for road work

LIHUE — Improvements to Waimea Canyon Drive, Kokee Road and parts of Kuhio Highway will be funded by the state, officials announced Monday.

Kauai received more than $2.2 million for improvements from Leho Drive to Aleka Loop, on Kuhio Highway and Waimea Canyon Drive and Kokee Road, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“Any time we can get state money for highway improvements, it’s great,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa. “Kokee Road is highly traveled; a lot of tourists go there. It’s one of the go-to destination spots, so we need to make sure it’s safe.”

The $2.2 million is part of $120 million of state funds, raised from a recent sale in Highway Revenue Bonds, according to a release from the Governor’s Office.

Road projects like the ones in Waimea and Kapaa are much needed, Kagawa said.

“I’m happy the governor is supporting more projects — they’re no-brainers,” he said. “Now, we just need to keep it consistent.”

The state of Hawaii successfully sold $204.5 million in Highway Revenue Bonds, which is the lowest interest rate in the history of the state’s Highway Revenue Bond Program, according to a release.

The transaction, which raised a total of $247.6 million, was completed on Aug. 10.

About $127 million from the sale will go toward refinancing existing state bond. The refinancing will reduce debt service payments and save more than $22 million in interest costs.

“This financing is a tremendous success for the state, enabling continued investment in our infrastructure at a very affordable borrowing cost,” said Gov. David Ige. “The low interest rates achieved will demonstrate bond investors’ confidence in Hawaii economic strength and its continued practice of sound fiscal management. This is the result of years of discipline and conservative fiscal management.”

On Kauai, Kagawa is hopeful the road improvement projects will help spur the economy.

“They create jobs that are needed,” he said. “They stimulate salaries on Kauai, and local people can eat at local places and shop at local places.”

While the two highway improvement projects are a step in the right direction, another prority needs to be traffic congestion in Kapaa, said Councilman Gary Hooser.

“There are many things the county can do to improve the traffic flow on the roads that connect to the bypass that can keep cars off of Kuhio Highway, but the state must accelerate the already planned and approved 4-lane expansion in front of Coco Palms,” he said. “Both the county and state must make this an urgent priority and collaborate on solution strategies that can be implemented as soon as possible.”

The bonds were sold by a financing team led by Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, serving as book-running senior manager and Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo Securities, serving as co-senior managers.

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