Queen Kaahumanu Highway delays cost Water Department

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Delays in widening Queen Kaahumanu Highway are hitting the pocketbook of the county Department of Water Supply, which is trying to coordinate laying water lines with the roadwork.

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Delays in widening Queen Kaahumanu Highway are hitting the pocketbook of the county Department of Water Supply, which is trying to coordinate laying water lines with the roadwork.

The state Department of Transportation has notified the Water Department it needs more money to redesign the water line project to conform with amended plans. The Water Department has already paid DOT $3.4 million to lay about five miles of water lines.

It’s not known how much more it’s going to cost, as the two parties are in the midst of working out a memorandum of agreement.

The $100 million project to widen the highway from two lanes to four between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport was awarded six years ago to Goodfellow Bros. The work will include traffic signals at all intersections with left turns to or from the highway, drainage, lighting, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings.

The project was delayed because of cultural and archaeological concerns. DOT signed a memorandum of agreement with federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Federal Highway Administration, the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service after consulting with the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Kona Hawaiian Civic Club, Villages of Lai Opua Master Association, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Nakoa Foundation and Makani Hou o Kaloko-Honokohau.

DOT officials expect to issue a notice to proceed in August or September and intend to finish the project in two years.

Currently, the department is awaiting the state’s notice to proceed on the water line, said Water Department spokeswoman Kanani Aton. She said the delays won’t affect current water service in the area.

”This project does not affect our customers or new homes at this time, however, it will improve our ability to service existing customers more reliably and efficiently,” Aton said.

Water Board members last month expressed frustration with a lack of communication from the state. Transportation officials had been asked to come to the Water Board’s June 23 meeting to explain the proposed cost increase and give a status update on the project. They did not show up.

“I’m extremely disappointed the Department of Transportation is not here. … We were pretty much adamant about them being here,” Water Board Chairman G. Rick Robinson said at the time.

“It’s an affront to our board that we make the time to come but they don’t make the time to come,” Robinson said of the volunteer board.

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DOT officials had a scheduling problem, according to Water Department staff.

DOT officials could not answer questions by press time Tuesday evening.

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