Friday | April 17, 2015
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Laaloa work on time, budget, DPW says

While the long-planned Laaloa Avenue extension remains on time and budget, state officials are asking Hawaii Electric Light Co. to complete pole relocation work at night.

Hawaii County Department of Public Works Deputy Director Brandon Gonzalez said the state Department of Transportation recently requested Hawaii Electric Light Co. complete relocation of several poles at night to minimize the impact on traffic on Kuakini Highway. He said the poles need to be moved in order to widen the state highway to construct deceleration and acceleration lanes.

“Due to the traffic load during the daytime hours, (the state DOT) asked HELCO if they could do the relocation work instead at night,” Gonzalez said.

HELCO was slated to relocate transmission poles on Kuakini Highway for the extension this week, however, that work was subsequently delayed because of the state’s request, said a Department of Public Works spokesperson.

Roger Keller, HELCO spokesman, confirmed the state’s request on Tuesday. He said the relocation project is currently on hold while the company works with the state to find the best solution. The company’s permit to work on the road would have to be refiled and residents notified in order to work at night, he added.

“We want to do whatever we can to minimize the impact on traffic,” Keller said. “Either way, we’ve got to get it done.”

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said Wednesday that because the work is taking place in the state highway’s right-of-way, the department “recommended” the work be completed at night “because traffic tends to back up in the area if there is day work.” The state would provide a permit for the work to take place.

HELCO may have to secure a Department of Health noise variance depending on what noise the work might entail, she added.

The 1,900-foot extension that will bring Laaloa Avenue from its intersection with Laelae Street to Kuakini Highway is expected to be completed for a summer 2014 opening, Gonzales said. Contractor Isemoto Contracting Inc. remains in line with the $7.8 million it bid to complete the project’s first phase, he added. Work began in July 2013.

The project is split in two phases: the mauka portion that requires the new construction and was estimated to cost about $14 million, but in actuality came in at nearly half that amount; and a lower portion where Laaloa connects with Alii Drive, which has been estimated to cost about $5 million. The Hawaii County Council in 2011 authorized a $20 million bond for both phases.

The county expects next month to advertise for bids for the second phase, which will improve slopes and drainage on the existing roadway as well as add curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes, Gonzales said. It will also include improvements to ensure motorists have a clear line of sight when entering and exiting Laaloa Avenue.

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. It will provide another means for egress during an evacuation or other emergency.

The county has been talking about extending Laaloa Avenue for decades.

Formal work began in August 2004 with public meetings for the release of a draft environmental assessment. A context sensitive solutions process to address issues and find a way to make the mauka-makai connector road a reality commenced in August 2006 and wrapped up in 2008. A final EA was released that same year.

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 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.