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Kawaihae Harbor project funding approved

KAWAIHAE HARBOR, Hawai‘i — The state of Hawai‘i is going to receive millions of dollars to facilitate improvements at Kawaihae Harbor.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration awarded a $23.46 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant to the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) for the Port of Kawaihae.

The financial award, which was announced by Sen. Brian Schatz on Oct. 31, will be used to enhance operational efficiency and help reduce highway traffic congestion.

“As West Hawai‘i continues to grow, its port is critical to keeping goods flowing and its local economy moving,” said Schatz, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation.

“This new funding will help improve Kawaihae Harbor so that residents can continue to get the food and supplies they need, while lowering shipping costs for everyone.”

Plans for the grant money include widening Kawaihae Road to accommodate a left turn lane into the main port gate, concrete paving on 10 acres over asphalted portions in the cargo yard and a new 80-foot mast lighting to replace lower lighting equipment.

Plans also call for the installation of conduit and raised transformer pads for expanded electrical power plugs for refrigerated containers, as well as the relocation of the port office building and maintenance shed.

“We appreciate the support of the Biden administration, U.S. DOT, and our congressional delegation to channel Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to priority projects in Hawai‘i,” said Director of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen in a statement.

“This multimodal project helps us meet many of our goals such as improving quality of life and local food security.”

The new facilities will increase the port’s limited storage capacity by adding roughly 2.8 acres of cargo yard space and relocating the district office and maintenance shed so that the space those structures currently occupy can be used for cargo yard operations.

HDOT said highway improvements will address community concerns by reducing traffic congestion caused by truck queues and the added turn lane will allow drivers, who are not headed for the harbor, to bypass the congestion.

The interior improvements will enhance operational efficiency and safety to ensure goods move off the piers and to their final destinations as quickly as possible.

This grant award covers 70 percent of the total project cost of $33.9 million, HDOT will fund the balance of the project cost with revenues generated from harbor user fees.

HDOT anticipates request for bids for the project to take place in 2025, pending completion of the environmental process. Once the contract is awarded, construction of the project is estimated to take two years to complete.

“Without the support of these federal grant funds, we likely would not be able to complete this much-needed project for another decade,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Harbors Dre Kalili.

“The inclusion of federal resources in our projects means our commercial harbor system will remain a reliable lifeline for our state’s economy.”

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West Hawai‘i Today reporter Laura Ruminski can be reached at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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