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Another delay for Mamalahoa Bypass

March 19, 2014 - 12:05am

The long-awaited Mamalahoa bypass is going to take a month longer to get started.

County Department of Public Works Director Warren Lee said Tuesday that the bid opening originally scheduled for Thursday is being postponed until April 24 to give bidders time to work out their proposals.

The road — promised by developers in the late 1990s as a public benefit of the Hokulia project in South Kona — has been on the books since the 1970s. Developers were able to construct the first half, from Alii Drive to Halekii Street in Kealakekua, but work stalled during protracted litigation relating to unsuccessful attempts to take land for the second half by eminent domain.

“It’s not an easy design,” Lee said. “Ultimately, we want a good solid bid so the project can go smoothly.”

Lee said the delay was granted after several of the six or seven potential bidders asked for more time.

It’s likely that each stage of the process will be delayed 30 days, but the project is still expected to take 18 months once a notice to proceed is issued, he said. The project could still make its 2015 target date for completion, he said.

Once completed, the purchase would allow for the bypass to be extended from Halekii Street to Mamalahoa Highway near Napoopoo Road. The project includes the 2.2-mile road extension and improvements to the Mamalahoa Highway and Napoopoo Road intersection. It’s anticipated to cost about $30 million.

Hokulia and its bond holder settled a lawsuit with the county in 2012, offering a $20 million payout if the company was unable to complete the bypass. County officials hoped to start work on the road last year, but ended up waiting for the payment to be made. Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said the payment must be made by March 23.

The County Council approved a resolution in December allowing for the county to acquire portions of nine parcels through eminent domain.

Lee said the Napoopoo intersection is especially tricky because of the topography and the heavy traffic in the area.

“You have very heavy traffic all day,” Lee said. “You just can’t close the road and stop the traffic.”