Smooth ride, soon

PUHI — Construction on Puhi Road is worth the inconveniences, some residents say.

“The roads are so rough; there are a lot of potholes,” said Rose Gomez.

Potholes aren’t the only problem, said Gomez, who has lived in Puhi for the last six years.

“There’s no gutter, so when it rains, there’s nowhere for the water to go,” she said.

The lack of drainage is a concern for Jimmy Velasco, who drives down Puhi Road every day to drop off his son.

“The road needs some kind of drainage — I don’t see any whatsoever,” he said.

Traffic on Puhi has been condensed to a one-way lane, as the $3.6 million project by Drayko Construction, Inc. is being completed. When the project started in May, the southbound lane was transformed into a one-way lane.

That lane was re-opened in August. Now, work is expected to be completed on the northbound lanes, closing the road to oncoming traffic.

The project is expected to be finished by February.

Business owners of Puhi Plaza said the work hasn’t hindered people from coming into their stores.

“They have been really good about keeping access roads open,” said Colette Savage, owner of The Wine Garden.

Misha Taylor, who owns Aloha Aina Juice Cafe, agreed.

“People are still coming in. The construction isn’t killing me, which I’m baffled by,” she said. “But people are addicted to acai bowls, so they come in, no matter what.”

Taylor said she hasn’t heard customers complain about the construction.

The Puhi Road Rehabilitation Project broke ground in May. The project spans Kaumualii Highway to Kaneka Street and Kaneka Street to Haleukana Street.

When completed, the road will boast two bike lanes, parking spaces and sidewalks along the east side of the road.

Drainage concerns are also being addressed. On May 23, a 18-inch diameter drain line was installed on Leleiona Street, which is expected to improve drainage at the intersection of Puhi Road and Leleiona Street.

Eighty percent of the project is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The county is footing 20 percent of the final bill, said Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer.

Next week, Drayko Construction will start pouring concrete pavement for the northbound lanes on Puhi Road. The company will also pour driveways and sidewalks.

“The project is currently slightly ahead of schedule, but the weather could affect this,” Tabata said.

Because Puhi Road is riddled with potholes, the rehabilitation is badly needed, Savage said.

“The road is in bad shape — it’s almost undriveable,” she said. “I’m excited to see the project get done.”

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