Input sought on NELHA road plans


Planners are seeking input on transportation improvements at NELHA’s Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park that will enhance access and serve as an economic driver, opening lots for new tenants and expansion of the research park.

The proposed project would likely be completed in two phases, according to planner Parsons Brinkerhoff, which was hired by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. No cost estimate was given for either of the phases.

The first phase, which would be implemented over the next decade, includes constructing a nearly 1-mile frontage road north of Makaeo Bay Drive; extending Kaiminani Drive and creating a four-way signalized intersection at Queen Kaahumanu Highway; and connecting planned arterial roadways to Kona International Airport.

The first phase of improvements are required because the current access to NELHA, Makaeo Bay Drive, will become a right-turn-in, right-turn-out only intersection when Queen Kaahumanu Highway is widened between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport.

Sen. Josh Green last month said the Department of Transportation will start work on the widening project in June if no lawsuits are filed, according to a Feb. 27 West Hawaii Today article.

The frontage road would slice through the park’s upper 80 acres, which have been zoned and set aside for offices and commercial/retail complexes, providing new lots. In late December, NELHA Executive Director Greg Barbour described the project as “shovel ready” when requesting the current state Legislature approve $9.69 million in general obligation bonds to fund the project. The funds remain in the budget, that recently advanced to the Senate.

The second phase, which the planner said would likely not begin until about 2035 when the airport, NELHA and other developments in the area are nearing full build-out, would include connecting NELHA’s frontage road with the airport’s planned frontage road and eventually signalizing Makaeo Bay Drive at Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

NELHA, located at Keahole Point, is home to 41 tenants — 29 precommercial research and commercial businesses, four Gateway Center companies, and eight research, educational and community endeavours.

Input, including issues the public would like to see addressed in the assessment, must be mailed within 30 days to James Hayes, of Parsons Brinkerhoff, 1001 Bishop St., Suite 2400, Honolulu, HI 96813. Input can also be submitted via email to hayesja@pbworld.com.