Contract awarded for second Puna roundabout

A $4.5 million contract has been awarded to a Honolulu-based contractor to install a roundabout at a Puna intersection.

On Jan. 30, the Hawaii Department of Transportation awarded a contract to general contractor Jas W. Glover to make improvements to the intersection of Keaau-Pahoa Road and Ainaloa Boulevard.

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Those improvements primarily consist of a compact roundabout managing the intersection of the two roads, as well as related signage and traffic-management infrastructure.

DOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said the contract was initially awarded to a different Honolulu general contractor, Nan Inc., for a bid of $4.48 million. However, that contractor could not prove that it complied with a federal program benefiting “disadvantaged business enterprises,” so the DOT — which favors businesses that comply with the program — instead awarded the contract to the second-lowest bidder.

Comprehensive improvements to Keaau-Pahoa Road, also known as Highway 130, have been discussed since at least 2018, when plans to widen the heavily used road fell through due to a lack of funding.

Don Smith, who was the DOT’s Hawaii Island district engineer at the time, proposed instead the installation of three new roundabouts on the road to improve the safety of the corridor from Hawaiian Paradise Park to Ainaloa.

The three roundabouts were proposed to be installed where Keaau-Pahoa Road intersects with Orchidland Drive, Makuu Drive and Ainaloa Boulevard. The DOT could not confirm Monday whether the Orchidland and Makuu roundabouts are still being considered.

The project is intended to improve the safety of the Keaau-Pahoa corridor. After a roundabout was installed at the Pahoa bypass intersection in 2016, the intersection went from being the most dangerous in the state to having almost no major collisions at all.

The Ainaloa roundabout will be smaller than the Pahoa bypass roundabout in order to fit into the intersection’s footprint and avoid the need to acquire new property.

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Kunishige said that, while the grant has been awarded to Jas W. Glover, the DOT has not yet granted the notice to proceed. Once that happens, work on the project can begin. A project summary on the DOT website suggests an estimated completion date by early 2021.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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