MOA spells out conditions of Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening

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A 27-page agreement on the widening of Queen Kaahumanu Highway has been signed and made public, marking a concurrence of state and federal officials and local stakeholders that will allow the $80 million project to move ahead.

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A 27-page agreement on the widening of Queen Kaahumanu Highway has been signed and made public, marking a concurrence of state and federal officials and local stakeholders that will allow the $80 million project to move ahead.

The memorandum of agreement provides for three pedestrian crossings on the highway at Hina Lani and Lanihau streets at the entrance to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and Kealakehe Parkway, with pedestrian refuges in the median area, among numerous other conditions that address handling of historic resources, project monitoring, street lighting, pollution and other facets of the project.

The project to widen the highway from two lanes to four between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport was first awarded six years ago to Goodfellow Bros.

The agreement provides for Native Hawaiian education and outreach through a plan between the Hawaii Department of Transportation and the University of Hawaii at Hilo that will fund scholarships and research in Hawaiian studies. The MOA also provides funding and support for Hawaiian-focused charter schools.

The plan will establish cultural monitors tasked with educating the public and construction workers and overseeing activity in sensitive areas. Street lighting must be low-impact and will only be allowed at intersections with traffic signals, in the interest of keeping clear night skies and to reduce glare at the park, under the MOA. Drywell drainage improvement from north of Hina Lani Street to just south of Kealakehe Parkway will prevent oil and other polluted runoff from the highway from entering the park’s groundwater.

Interpretive signs relating to the history of the trails will be produced by HDOT and installed in the park along with ahupuaa markers. Under the document, the oral histories of the Kekaha region will be recorded, and cultural programming for that region will also be funded.

Historic trails that are part of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail corridor, including the Mamalahoa Trail, traverse the project site. Data recovery and preservation plans have been created to reduce or negate impacts to numerous archaeological and cultural sites, including walls, trails, enclosures, mound complexes, excavated pits and other features.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation will study the possibility of creating an underpass for bikes and pedestrians at the Trail to Honokohau, with local stakeholders like the county and cycling groups engaged in the discussion.

Consulted parties for the MOA included the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Kona Hawaiian Civic Club, Villages of Lai Opua Master Association, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Nakoa Foundation, the National Park Service and Makani Hou o Kaloko-Honokohau.

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The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Federal Highway Administration, the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service were among the parties that had to sign off on the MOA before work could begin.

Check out the Thursday edition of West Hawaii Today for an expanded story.