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Lihue project a ‘no-brainer’

LIHUE — Change is coming to downtown Lihue — some of which has already started.

The Lihue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project was the focus of the Lihue Business Association’s monthly meeting at Duke’s Canoe Club restaurant Thursday morning.

County Department of Public Works Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata said he and county Managing Director Mike Dahilig got the inspiration for the project after a trip to San Diego and seeing some of the concepts used there.

He said the community needs to get in the habit of using pathways and walkways instead of driving right in front of their destinations.

Tabata said the project was a “no-brainer,” to the applause of about 35 people.

“He (Dahilig) took me walking all over these places and we came back and we pushed this project forward and got it funded,” Tabata said.

The two-phase project is scheduled for completion in December. It is funded in part by a federal grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. In 2015, the County of Kauai was awarded $15.1 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The county will add an additional $2 million to the project, which includes streetscape improvements, safer pedestrian crossings, and dedicated on-street parking.

Tabata said that about 80 parking spots will be created through the project.

The project will consist of seven components including the Eiwa Street transit hub — completing the conversion of the street with bus stops, shelters, pedestrian promenade, parking and bike lanes. That construction work is ongoing.

Another component is the conversion of Rice Street from four lanes to three, sidewalks on Ho‘ala and Kalena streets, Ho‘olako Street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, a shared use path between the Lihue Civic Center and Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, Pua‘ole Street and Malae Street bicycle boulevard and public restrooms for transit patrons at the Piikoi Building of the Lihue Civic Center.

As part of phase one, a new sidewalk is being installed on Rice Street from Umi Street to Ewalu Street, causing a temporary lane closure on Rice Street. A business access pathway near the sidewalk construction has been installed until that portion of the project is completed, which is scheduled for late June.

The public can expect notifications about scheduled work.

Councilmember Luke Evslin spoke of a plan to get affordable housing in the Lihue area, something that will be aided by the revitalization project.

“Councilmember (Mason) Chock and myself have six bills that we introduced last week to the Planning Commission. Five of them are targeting reducing fees and permitting for ARUs (Affordable Rental Units), and the sixth one would allow ARUs to eventually be built along Rice Street,” Evslin said.

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Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or rcollins@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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