KBR conducts survey for TIGER Grant project

LIHUE — When it comes to updating Rice Street, the Kauai Board of Realtors wants to hear what the community has to say.

“We want to reach out to everyone — visitors, residents, businesses owners and property owners,” said Karen Ono, executive director of KBR. “This is part of their community, and we want to know what they want to see on Rice Street.”

At the end of January, KBR launched an online survey which asks a myriad of questions, including: how often a person visits Rice Street, what three words come to mind when they think about Rice Street today, what words describe the ideal Rice Street of the future, and if they see the street as the heart of Lihue.

Since the survey has been online, about 50 people have submitted responses, 60 percent of which were visitors, Ono said.

Additionally, 28 percent of the responses came from residents, 15 percent were business owners and 5 percent were property owners, all of whom live and work in the Rice Street area, she said.

Ono hopes the survey will add to the Rice Street revitalization project discussion.

The county received the $13.8 million grant in October 2015. Funds from the grant will be used to revitalize Rice Street in an effort to make it the center of Lihue.

Projects include the addition of pedestrian and bike lanes on Rice Street, a shared-use path from the Lihue Civic Center to the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall and bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Hoolako Street.

County officials also want to convert Eiwa Street into a transit hub, install sidewalks on Hoala and Kalena streets and a bicycle boulevard on Puaole and Malae streets.

Other projects are:

w Adding center two-way left turn lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets.

w Establishing left-turn-only lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets.

w Establishing marked pedestrian crosswalks across Rice, Puaole, Kalena, Hoala and Malama and Hoolako streets.

w Creating bicycle lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets.

w Adding bus stops on Rice Street.

“The goal is to make it a walking town and make it a nice place where people want to visit,” Ono said. “For me personally, it’s a street people don’t even want to drive down. The buildings are boring — there aren’t any colors to it.”

The administration has until June 30 to present a final concept to the council for a final vote. If all goes to plan, construction is slated to begin by end of 2018.

The project will take about a year to complete.

Ono hopes the revitalization project will help breathe life back into what has been considered the heart of Lihue.

“There were once sugar cane plantations here. And the first post office and bank were on Rice Street,” she said. “Our hope is that this project drums up the economy on Rice Street and it becomes a happening place like Hanapepe and Kapaa. They each have their own block parties, and we want the same thing here.”

The public has until the end of the month to complete the survey.

To take the survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/RiceStreet.

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