LIHUE — A resolution seeking to make changes to the TIGER Grant road projects was deferred Wednesday, giving the administration time to explain the changes.
Representatives from administrative offices could not attend Kauai County Council meeting because they were at a planning conference, said Mel Rapozo, council chair.
As plans for part of a $13.8 million Lihue Town Core Revitalization Project move forward, Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer, recommended the following modifications:
• Adding center two-way left turn lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
• Establishing left turn only lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
• Establishing marked pedestrian crosswalks across Rice, Puaole, Kalena, Hoala and Malama and Hoolako streets
• Creating bicycle lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
• Adding bus stops on Rice Street.
Resolution No. 2016-57 also seeks to limit parking between Haleko Road and Hardy Street to two hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
The Lihue Town Core Revitalization Project is being funded by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. Before construction can happen, the Kauai County Council needs to approve the projects. If approved, construction is expected to start in 2018.
During Wednesday’s meeting, attention turned to funding the Lihue Town Core versus funding other infrastructure improvement projects, like traffic congestion.
“This is not a road improvement grant, we cannot put this money elsewhere,” said Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro. “We were fortunate enough to apply for and get this grant, and it’s difficult for me to throw $13 million away, wishing it could go somewhere else.”
Councilman KipuKai Kuali’i said the TIGER Grant will ensure a bright future for Lihue.
“I see this as part of a long future for the Lihue Town Core. This isn’t for the next five or 10 years,” he said.
Mel Rapozo, council chair, said he wanted to see the same energy to improve Lihue spread across the rest of the island.
“With all of the congestion issues, why focus hundreds of hours and millions of dollars in Lihue?” he said. “Why not spend some of that energy in Kapaa or the Westside?”
While he admits it’ll be hard to vote against approving the TIGER grant money, Rapozo said he has problems with how the projects were prioritized.
“Kapaa is a bustling core, why not spend some of the money there?” he said.
For Councilman Mason Chock, the lesson learned from the TIGER grant projects is better communication about what the priorities are for the county.
“We get a lot of requests for approval for grants from every department every year,” he said. “But if we are clear about the core services we need to focus on, maybe we’ll have more direction from our departments and our leaders.”
Resolution No. 2016-587 will be back in committee on Sept. 28. A public hearing will be held on Oct. 5.