VIDEO: Big turnout for Puainako improvement project

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Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar

Map of the Puainako project area projected onto a screen at the meeting

HILO, Hawaii: Hundreds packed the Waiakea Intermediate School Cafeteria to hear about the big Puainako Street Widening project, which is restarting after years of delay.

As state Department of Transportation consultants explained… The project involves the partial realignment and widening of Puainako Street from the east side of the Kilauea Avenue intersection to Komohana Street.

A much needed project, as SSFM engineer Austen Drake explained.

Drake said that’s things like unsignalized intersections and poor sight distance, a result of the undulating road that sometimes hides cars from view.

When finished, the Puainako Street will complete the cross island Saddle Road, fulfilling its destiny as the starting point of Hawaii’s east-west highway.

This aerial photo mapping out the project was laid out over a long table, where it drew a crowd before and after the presentation.

Many residents wanted to know how this project would effect them and their homes.

Improvements within the 1.5-mile corridor will include sidewalks and bicycle lanes, drainage structures, traffic signals, retaining walls, sound walls, raised and at-grade medians, and landscaping.

Engineers also hope to make the road more pedestrian friendly than it is now.

But not all impacts will be to the benefit of all landowners.  Three properties are already targeted for possible relocation.

The state will have to acquire a portion of 33 properties with this re-alignment.

But this was more than just a public informational meeting. It was also part of a Section 106 Consultation, which is a requirement of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Officials revealed the timeline for the undertaking, and warned that there will be some inconveniences during the project…

The contractor will have to apply for a noise permit, and probably use sound walls. Also, since the schools will play such a large roll in traffic flow, work will be planned around summer vacation time.

The public was assured that there will be plenty of time to talk. Another informational meeting is scheduled for March, 2013.

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