Hawaii officials request $90M for Inouye Highway extension

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii transportation officials requested $90 million in special funds and revenue bonds to help pay the cost of extending Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

The funds were requested through Democratic Gov. David Ige’s supplemental executive budget released Dec. 16, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

The $90 million would go toward what has become known as the Saddle Road Extension to Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

The funds would be used to finish environmental work, acquire land and expand the Big Island highway from its current terminus at Mamalahoa Highway in South Kohala.

The budget will be submitted to the upcoming Legislature, which will determine whether funding is allocated for fiscal year 2021.

The $90 million request is based on the most recent estimate for the project, which has remained in the environmental review phase since the release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement in April 2017.

The Department of Transportation budgeted $5 million for right-of-way acquisition and $85 million for construction of the road running about 10.5 miles (17 kilometers), spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said.

“We are seeking this appropriation through the supplemental budget as the project is a candidate for the new funding anticipated from the rental car surcharge approved by the State Legislature in 2018,” Kunishige said.

The surcharge increase signed into law by Ige a year ago increased the per-day surcharge from $3 to $5 for rentals to drivers without a Hawaii driver’s license. The funds go to the county in which the rental motor vehicle was driven.

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