August 24, 2010 – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Video by Baron Sekiya, Hawaii247.com
The Ane Keohokalole Highway reached a milestone Monday as heavy equipment from Nan Hawaii Inc. cleared the way to connect the three-mile, $35 million thoroughfare to Palani Road.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi watched as the last 100 feet of non-native trees were grubbed and the public got its first closeup glimpse of this project.
Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the project has made rapid progress since it broke ground on March 30. Except for a small detour near Kealakehe High School, residents have been unaffected by the work. The highway is on schedule to be completed in two years.
The county says the project “lays the groundwork for the orderly expansion of Kailua-Kona by creating affordable housing opportunities; facilitating homesteads for Native Hawaiians; allowing bus routes to connect homes, jobs, recreation, education and health facilities and furthering the goals of the Kona Community Development Plan.”
According to the county:
But what makes this highway project unique to others in Hawaii County, and possibly the state is more than $1 million set aside by the Federal Highways Administration has agreed to set aside, will be used to perpetuate a 15th century farm site adjoining the highway project. The Queen Liliuokalani Trust (QLT), which deeded land for the highway to the county, has long known about this remarkably well-preserved remnant of the Kona Field System. This expenditure will also slow a thriving black market in Hawaiian artifacts which are so abundant in this area.
“I’m almost as excited about the preservation area as I am about the road,” said Kenoi. “This isn’t for us. It’s for our keiki and moopuna, something that they can visit and use to hold on to the rich past of this land.”
The county, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Federal Highways and developer Stanford Carr are also putting the final touches on a 150-acre preservation area at the north end of this phase of construction, setting aside one of Hawaii’s last remaining regions of Native Hawaiian Dryland Forest.
Most of the $35 million will pay for phase one of the highway, two northbound lanes from the intersection of Palani Road to just makai of Kealakehe High School where a small section of the highway exists and leads to the future West Hawaii Civic Center. About $5 million will be used to improve Palani Road between Henry Street and the Queen Kaahumanu Highway.
Future phases of the Ane Keohokalole Highway will eventually extend the road from the civic center to Hina-Lani Street, and then to Kaiminani Drive and beyond where developers of the Palamanui subdivision are building the first increment of the new University of Hawaii-West Hawaii Center campus.
In addition to QLT, the Ane Keohokalole Highway will facilitate a state affordable housing project being built by Forest City, expansion of Hawaiian Home Lands housing at Laiopua, a commercial park development by Lanihau Properties, and market value homes in Kaloko being planned by Stanford Carr.
County Department of Parks and Recreation has asked the state to modify an executive order by the governor to allow a regional park at the former site of a proposed municipal golf course. An organization known as Laiopua 2020 will develop a community center adjacent to the park. And Kamehameha Schools has committed to establish a preschool at the facility.
Extended video courtesy Hawaii247.com
|ANE KEOHOKALOLE HIGHWAY PROGRESS
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Mayor Billy Kenoi gets a royal view of the final feet excavated by Nan Hawaii Inc, as the Ane Keohokalole pushes through the brush to connect with Palani Road. Kenoi shares his thoughts on the ARRA funded project with Karin Stanton of Hawaii24/7, and also thanks the workers and local kupuna. Nan Hawaii’s Alex Leonard also talks aboiut the project.