Bids for the proposed Laaloa Avenue extension came in significantly lower than expected, Public Works Director Warren Lee said Tuesday.
The county opened bids for the construction project, which will connect Laaloa with Kuakini Highway. The project was split into two parts, a mauka portion that requires new construction and was estimated to cost about $14 million, and a lower portion doing work where Laaloa connects with Alii Drive, which was estimated to cost about $5 million. The county council in 2011 authorized a $20 million bond for both phases.
Nan Inc. submitted the low bid for the mauka work, at $7.6 million, Lee said. The next lowest bidder, Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd., came in just about $200,000 higher. The highest bid was about $12 million, Lee said.
“I think it was a competitive bid,” Lee said. “The (taxpayer) is going to benefit from this.”
He said the county may have overestimated the project cost, leading to the project estimate being nearly double the low bid. Deputy Public Works Director Brandon Gonzales said in November the steep slope on which the road extension must be built, as well as the state Department of Transportation intersection requirements, add to construction costs.
Hawaii County officials are now reviewing Nan’s bid. Lee said it could take one to two months to complete that review before awarding the contract. The county will then issue a notice to proceed, with a start date depending on the winning contractor’s availability. Nan officials estimated it would take them about a year to build the 1,900-foot road extension. Lee said that could mean the road could be finished by the middle of 2014.
Once built, the connection will be the first in a 3.5-mile stretch of Alii Drive between Royal Poinciana Drive and Kamehameha III Road. A consultant, working on the county’s application for a special management area permit for the project, said traffic volume will only increase along Alii Drive if no new mauka-makai connections are built.
“The project would decrease traffic congestion and would increase overall traffic safety for the area,” consultant CH2M Hill’s report said.
An archaeological assessment found four sites that could be impacted by the construction, but a State Historic Preservation Division officer ruled the sites’ precontact habitation areas would not be affected.
The county completed the final condemnation procedure last year, securing the land for the road’s new route. The 3rd Circuit Court set several of the purchase prices, which totalled about $496,000.
The county has been talking about extending Laaloa for decades.
The county experienced an additional delay last fall, after the Department of Public Works failed to post a public notice about an October Leeward Planning Commission hearing on the department’s special management area use permit request.
The planning commission granted the permit at its November meeting.
Some people who live along Laaloa Avenue expressed concerns at that meeting about the decision to split the project into two phases, saying they worried the lower portion may never be completed.
Lee said Tuesday the county is working on the engineering for that second phase.
Low bidder Nan Inc. worked on the most recent county road project in West Hawaii, the Ane Keohokalole Highway, which opened last year.