Contractor given go-ahead for Alii Drive culvert replacement project

  • The double-cell culvert bridging the Waiaha Drainageway on Alii Drive. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Traffic backs up at the Alii Drive bridge. (Chelsea Jensen / West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Isemoto Contracting has been given the go-ahead to begin preparation work for a year-long project to replace a culvert on busy Alii Drive.

The Hawaii County Department of Public Works issued a notice to proceed effective today allowing Hilo-based Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. to begin executing subcontracts, submitting material certifications/samples, shop drawings and other preliminary work for the project, according to Barett Otani, executive assistant to the Office of the Mayor.


Isemoto won earlier this year the $8.97 million contract to change out and expand the 81-year-old culvert, also referred to as bridge, located 1.5 miles south of the center of Kailua Village on the Waiaha Drainageway. The Federal Highways Administration is picking up 80 percent of the cost, or about $7.2 million, while the county will pay the remainder.

Field work, Otani said, should start around the middle of May. The project, which will be completed in phases to minimize impacts on traffic and pedestrians, will take about a year.

Work will take place Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays, according to the county. Two lanes of traffic shall be provided during peak travel hours, but from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the contractor may impose a single-lane closure.

Otani said a community meeting will be held to provide more details prior to the start of field work. No date had been set as of press time Monday.

“The County of Hawaii Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding,” Otani said. “If there are any questions or concerns, please call the Department of Public Works at 961-8321.”

The new structure will include a wider bridge with two 5-foot-wide bike lanes and two 7-foot-wide raised sidewalks. It’ll be 49 feet wide total, providing more room than the current bridge that comprises two 10-foot lanes and a narrow shoulder.

Though described as “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete” and near the end of its design life in a final Environmental Assessment for the project, Otani said previously that bridge engineers have deemed it safe for use.


It’s been reinforced over the years, most recently after flooding in September 2015, but it needs to be replaced after preliminary design work determined it cannot cope with repairs, maintenance and upgrades. The new structure will include a wider and longer culvert structure capable of handling more water flow.

The county had worked to address the culvert in 1998, but the project was put on hold because of financial constrictions. Current efforts to replace it started around 2014.

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