Mayor outlines Kauai’s future

LIHUE — Methane to fuel conversion and expanding multi-modal improvements were among the topics Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. addressed at the annual Lihue Business Association general membership meeting on Thursday.

In front of a crowd of about 45 people, Carvalho outlined improvements and expansions of the island’s pedestrian walkways, bike paths and transit system.

“We’re the first county in the state to adopt a complete streets resolution, ensuring that every road improvement project on the island will be developed with the needs and safety of all users, taking into consideration,” he said.

His examples included projects in Lihue with the Town Core Revitalization Mobility Plan as well multi-modal improvements in Hanapepe, Poipu, Kapaa and Kilauea.

“Everybody’s different,” he said. “Every community is different.”

Projects include an improved bike and pedestrian access way from Kilauea Town to the lighthouse; connecting Waimea Canyon School to Kekaha School via a walkable-bikeable path along the highway area and a walkable-bikeable path from Hanapepe Town to Salt Pond Beach Park.

He also touched base on work on Kawaihau Road that is slated to begin in February with the military.

“They’re going to do all the labor — from the Army and National Guard — to complete that spur to Mahelona,” he said. “So you have a connection, up to the community, up to Kapahi Park We want to continue to look at ways to now connect the coastal paths to the parks.”

Carvalho said the $13.8 million Tiger grant is the largest community competitive grant ever received by the county.

In December, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will visit the island to check on the progress of the project.

“We’re trying to transform our island, mainly Lihue, the heart of Kauai,” Carvalho said. “In February of this year, we finished the first large-scale project: Hardy Street. We need to encourage some of the concerns that come when you do things differently.”

Other major improvements funded by the Tiger grant are an Eiwa Street transit hub, sidewalks to Hoala and Kalena Streets, bikeable and pedestrian improvements by Hoolako by Vidinha Stadium and a shared path between Lihue Civic Center and the Convention Hall.

Carvalho said there are plans to fuel the island’s transit vehicles with converted methane sometime in the future.

“I don’t know how it’s going to happen yet, but gotta keep talking about it,” he said. “Right now we’re trying to follow through on the existing landfill which is Kekaha and get the methane which is dissipating today to a flare. That’s part of the program. That’s the first phase. The second phase is efforts to move forward as quickly as we can and how quickly they can do it to extract the gas.”

Ben Sullivan, Kauai County energy and sustainability manager, said the first step is to complete the gas collection and control system and test the gas.

“We have some assumptions based on analysis that says, there should be this much gas; it has to be this quality,” Sullivan said. “Those assumptions have to be validated through the actual gas intake of the system. That will be up and running in a month. We’ll start to collect data. If that data is validated, we can consider the next steps to that project. It’s a challenging project.”

With the end of sugarcane and pineapple, the mayor said the county is working in collaboration with Kauai stakeholders to improve and grow the agriculture industry.

“Our long-term vision is having an islandwide ag park system,” he said. “Every moku should have an ag park. As you all know, Kilauea ag park is out there. We want the community to take the lead.”

Carvalho also wants to revive the future farmer grower program.

“George Costa from economic development works very closely with Kapaa High School, Kauai high school and Waimea,” he said. “We’re trying to get back to the schools … and try to create new farmers.”

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