Saturday | April 18, 2015
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Improvements planned at Kona airport

Kona International Airport will get some much-needed TLC with $10.4 million slated by the state Legislature to re-roof the open-airport’s main terminal early next year.

The main terminal, which consists of two buildings in operation since the airport moved to Keahole in 1970, will be re-roofed during the project expected to commence in early 2013, said Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Derek Inoshita. The $10.4 million project should take about a year to complete.

Once a contract is procured, crews will remove and replace the roof as well as install new roof vents to improve circulation through the open-air structures, he said Wednesday. The roofing project will maintain the airport’s current aesthetic features.

The capital improvement project will tie in with the airport’s 2009 20-year master plan, which identifies facilities and construction projects needed in the future, determines how to finance the projects and creates a timetable, he said. The plan incorporates the airport’s existing terminal facilities into its proposed alternatives.

In addition to the $10.4 aimed at improving West Hawaii’s main airport, $11.5 million will be spent on improvements at Kawaihae Harbor, and $3.6 million for road drainage improvements on Kohala Mountain Road, according to the 2012 supplemental budget set to be finalized by the state Legislature today. A total of $50.4 million in capital improvement projects is slated for the area.

State House Rep. Cindy Evans, D-North Kona and South Kohala, said she supported the department’s airport facility funding request. She added that there have been reports of the roof leaking during rain.

“From what I understand, the roof was reaching the end of it’s life,” she said about the need for the project.

She also noted that maintaining and improving airport facilities is important when you consider the number of residents and visitors who use through the airport.

“We can’t have our facilities looking as though we don’t care,” she said. “Because that’s a reflection of the area’s attitude.”

State Rep. Denny Coffman, D-North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau, said he supported the project with the hope of it not only improving the airport overall, but also providing jobs and other economic opportunities to the area.

“Hopefully, it will have the domino effect,” he said about the project fueling not only jobs, but also sales for local businesses.

At Kawaihae Harbor, the $11.5 million will cover a variety of improvements including paving, upgrading utilities and relocating the harbor agent’s office, according to the budget supplement. Inoshita was unable to provide a time line for the project as of press time on Wednesday.

Evans said the project is being under taken partially in response to community concerns over having to pass through security checkpoints at the harbor in order to reach the harbor agent’s office. She said the office would likely be relocated to the harbor’s south side.

Kohala Mountain Road, also known state Highway 250, will see $3.6 million in road drainage improvements near mile marker 10. The project, expected to take about six months, will install new culverts, construct new water inlet and outlet structures, install a swale, and extend and grade the road’s shoulder near the structures, said Inoshita.

Construction is anticipated to start in early 2015, he said.