Saddle Road project shifts to final east-side stretch

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HILO — Now, it’s Hilo’s turn.

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HILO — Now, it’s Hilo’s turn.

After realigning, widening and extending the rest of Saddle Road, state and federal highway officials are getting ready to improve one more 6-mile segment of the cross-island route, also known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

The $51 million project will straighten the highway descending into Hilo from mileposts 5.3 to 11 with two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot shoulders. The project, which also will add a climbing lane, is the last east-side phase for the Saddle Road improvement projects.

According to the Federal Highways Administration, the new road will follow the existing alignment from milepost 11 to 8.5 and then diverge southward until it reconnects with the Puainako extension at mile post 5.3.

Contractor Road and Highway Builders has started staging equipment and materials along the road and drivers could begin seeing work start soon.

Tim Sakahara, state Department of Transportation spokesman, said in an email that surveying also is underway.

The speed limit for that stretch will be reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph in the “coming weeks,” he said.

“A single lane closure may be necessary, however no significant delays are anticipated during the clearing and grubbing operations.”

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The project is expected to be complete in August 2017.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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