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Dignitaries celebrate Saddle Road completion in Hilo

Updated: 
October 11, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — It was a moment deemed “exemplary” by some of the state, federal, county officials and community members who gathered on a windy Tuesday morning to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the final phase of improvements to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road.

The widening and realignment project connects the existing highway near milepost 11 to the west end of the Puainako Street extension in Hilo.

The project culminates years of improvement projects to the cross-island highway that have spanned 48 miles and cost $316.5 million. The road was originally built in 1942 as a one-lane road to connect military training facilities.

“This fulfills the late Senator (Daniel) Inouye’s vision of a safe, efficient route across the largest island in our state,” Gov. David Ige told the more than 60 people gathered for the 90-minute dedication ceremony.

The final phase cost $57 million, which was within its allocated budget. It improves about six miles of highway and adds about three additional miles of new road. Additional safety features also were added including eight-foot shoulder lanes for passing, straighter alignment and a climbing lane for slower and larger vehicles.

Funding for improvements came from the federal government and the state Department of Transportation. The U.S. Army also has contributed more than $100 million.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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