Laaloa extension moving forward


The Department of Public Works now has planning authorization to move ahead on the Laaloa Street extension.

The Leeward Planning Commission approved the department’s special management area permit request to build a 1,900-foot extension of the road’s upper portion to connect Laaloa with Kuakini Highway. The construction project will also include 1,500 feet of acceleration and deceleration lanes on Kuakini.

That portion of the project is expected to cost about $7 million, planning officials said.

Public Works Director Warren Lee said he is hoping to take the project out for bid in the first quarter of 2013, with construction possibly starting in the middle of next year. Work should take a year to 18 months, Lee said.

The split of the project into two phases — work on the new road connection is the first phase to be followed by intersection improvements where Laaloa meets Alii Drive — continued to worry area residents.

Bob Ward said the capital improvement project bond the County Council approved for Laaloa was for $20 million and indicated the full project was a singular one, to be completed all at once.

“There’s absolutely no guarantee under this proposal any of these improvements (at the bottom of Laaloa) will be done,” Ward said.

Public Works Deputy Director Brandon Gonzales told Ward, four other testifiers and commissioners it was the department’s intent to begin on the Alii Drive intersection improvements as soon as the department knows the full cost of the first phase. The new road must be constructed on a steep slope, and must conform to state Department of Transportation standards where it meets Kuakini Highway, both of which add to construction costs, Gonzales said.

Commissioner Lani Bowman asked whether the commission could keep DPW from opening the new intersection on Laaloa’s mauka end until the makai intersection improvements were done. That prompted an hourlong break, followed by a brief executive session, to allow Deputy Corporation Counsel Ivan Torigoe to investigate whether the commission could legally set such a requirement. Bowman apparently withdrew the request after the executive session, instead asking Gonzales about the timing of traffic safety improvements on Laaloa itself.

“What I’d like to reiterate and get from you, I’m sure there is a commitment to provide a safe traffic venue once this is opened, that the improvements to accommodate the increased traffic will be made,” Bowman said.

Gonzales agreed.

“That effort is undergoing as we speak,” he said. “We are looking to do improvements along the entire stretch of Laaloa before its opening to public use.”

Commissioners also approved Innovations Public Charter School’s request to increase its campus and enrollment size to about 9.2 acres and 350 students, up from about 5 acres and a maximum of 200 students. The increase will allow the school to add a middle school, followed by a high school.