HILO — Hawaii County is in the early stages of planning an extension for Kapiolani Street in Hilo.
The street currently exists as two separate roadways, with a 0.5 mile gap between Lanikaula and Mohouli streets.
The county wants to close that with a new stretch of pavement over vacant land and a new bridge over the Waiakea Stream.
Noelani Whittington, county Public Works public information specialist, said the extension would ease traffic on Kinoole Street and provide a new route to the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus.
“You could go from the university straight to downtown Hilo,” she said.
It would also act as an alternative tsunami evacuation route and open up about 35 acres of land for development.
The County Council last year approved an $8.7 million bond for the project.
The county is currently working on environmental studies for the project; a draft environmental assessment is scheduled to be completed next month.
Whittington said there is no timeline for construction yet, though the design is scheduled to be completed August 2013.
A public information meeting was held earlier this month.
Whittington said the response was overall favorable.
Another meeting is expected to be held in August.
Lloyd Suyama, who lives near the proposed extension, said he is giving it his support.
Suyama said it would provide for better traffic flow through the area.
The addition of a stop light at the intersection of Lanikaula and Kapiolani streets would also provide for better traffic control, he said, adding that drivers take advantage of the existing long, uncontrolled roadway on Lanikaula Street.
“I think it will prevent them from speeding all the way” down, Suyama said.
Whittington said new signals would be part of the project.
Additionally, new sidewalks and street lighting are planned.
Bike lanes will also be considered, she said.