April 1, 2009 – Hilo, Hawaii
VIDEO: David Corrigan
A celebration that was years in the making was finally held along the side of the improved Queen Kaahumanu Highway on Tuesday, as phase one of the $45.9 million project was dedicated by officials. Hawaii State Department of Transportation officials joined state and local legislators at the ceremony, which involved a few short speeches before a traditional Hawaiian blessing and an untying of a maile lei on the middle island of the highway.
During the dedication, State Senator J. Kalani English of the 6th district (Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe) and chair of the Transportation, International and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, announced the speed limit on the finished portion of the road would be raised from 35 mph to 45 mph. His announcement received a cheer from the audience.
According to the state, the Queen Kaahumanu Widening Project “aims to improve the quality of life in West Hawaii by moving people, goods, and services more efficiently.” The state says the project broke ground in September 2005 and was designed to widen the existing roadway from two lanes to a four lane divided highway.
The project, carried out by Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc., was plagued by delays and pitfalls. Officials expressed relief to be finished with the challenging first phase of the project.