Proposed frontage road moving forward


A proposed frontage road within the Kohanaiki project got state environmental approval this week.

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd gave the road, which will run alongside Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Hulikoa Road to Kohanaiki Way, a finding of no significant impact, according to the final environmental assessment, filed March 8. The frontage road allows the development, makai of the highway, to limit the project’s highway access to a centralized location, the document said.

Property owners Kohanaiki Shores and Rutter/KW Kohanaiki LLC still need a special management area use permit and a conservation district use permit before they can begin construction. The road is expected to cost about $1.4 million and take about 12 months to complete.

The document covers only a portion of the full frontage road described in the Kona Community Development Plan. That plan calls for a road running from Kona International Airport to Honokohau Small Boat Harbor, serving as a secondary transit route for the region. No one has proposed building the remainder of the road. But the possible road route raised concerns for Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park Superintendent Kathy Billings.

“The National Park Service cannot legally allow a frontage road to be built on National Park Service lands,” Billings wrote in a Feb. 27 letter to consultant PBR Hawaii.

Senior Associate Tom Schnell acknowledged the comment, noting Kohanaiki developers did not propose to build on the park service property. The source of the proposed route is the KCDP, he added.

Building the road will improve quality of life, the assessment said, by “improving safety and traffic flow on Queen Kaahumanu Highway through the consolidation of access points” and by “improving public access to the properties makai and mauka” of the highway, particularly “to Kohanaiki Public Beach Park and the shoreline.”

The project has three segments. First is extending Hulikoa Drive makai of the highway, from the right of way to the frontage road intersection. Second is creating a new intersection with the frontage road. The final segment is building the frontage road to the existing Kohanaiki Way, to the north. Kohanaiki Way’s current access to Queen Kaahumanu Highway will eventually be closed, under the terms of a memorandum of understanding between Kohanaiki’s developers and state officials.

The assessment said no endangered plant or animal species were found on the site. Two historic sites were located, but they are not within the proposed roadway. A cultural impact assessment determined no known cultural resources will be directly affected.