WAILUA — Ron Lemay drives the stretch of Kuhio Highway near the Coco Palms development property, from Kuamoo Road to the Kapaa bypass road at least five days a week, and he’s noticed a change in the trek.
It’s a smoother experience, he said, thanks to a state Department of Transportation resurfacing project that’s set to last through the summer.
“It is long overdue and makes it much safer because people are not trying to avoid divots,” Lemay said. “It’s so much better now.”
Lemay’s wife Michelle travels the stretch often as well and said she’s grateful HDOT is improving such a main thoroughfare.
It had long been a jarring, rough ride in front of Coco Palms that saw drivers swerving to avoid potholes and bumps.
“I definitely realized the road was smoother as my car wasn’t jumping all around any more,” she said.
Thursday, HDOT officials said the project is on track, with nightly resurfacing work that started June 24.
Sunday through Thursday, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., one lane of Kuhio Highway is closed in the area.
“The direction of the closed lane will vary based on the work,” HDOT officials said in a press release. “Traffic will be maintained in both directions in the two remaining open lanes.”
The project includes the reconstruction of weakened pavement areas, resurfacing, pavement markings, and traffic signal upgrades at the Haleilio Road and Kuamoo Road intersections with Kuhio Highway.
It’s the start of a $700,000 improvement of Kuhio Highway in the Wailua corridor. The money was released by HDOT for the project in May and the vision includes widening the roadway from Kuamoo Road to the temporary Kapaa bypass road and adding a southbound lane.
Ron Mabry, vice president of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach, said he doesn’t drive the stretch often, but did take the route Wednesday for the first time since the resurfacing began.
“(I was) pleasantly surprised and it was a smooth drive. My tires and car alignment appreciated the work,” Mabry said. “Unfortunately, it makes the rest of our roads stand out more.
Kapahi resident Christy Wong said she drove through the area at 10 p.m. recently, when work was ongoing and traffic was heavy in both directions.
“I think they are doing a great job and are efficient at how fast and well they are completing this long-overdue job,” she said Thursday. “Drove on it today and it was so smooth, the traffic and the road.”
She pointed out traffic is still an issue on the highway and an additional southbound lane could help with that.
“Way too many people (and) cars,” she said.
Dr. Robert Zelkovsky, who lives in Wailua, said he avoids the corridor, and it’s not because of the potholes.
“Last time I drove that area traffic crawled and I really did not get a feel for the surface,” he said. “Our traffic problem is complex, no simple, viable solution, and it’s scary to think that any long-term solution is five to 10 years away.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.