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Public asked to help prioritize federal transportation spending

Big Island roads can be as much sources of frustration as they are avenues of transportation, but the public does have some say about it.

The state has organized a survey for people to prioritize which federally funded road projects should be tackled over the next four years as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. The survey describes 23 specific highway, rockfall mitigation, guardrail and shoulder improvements and bridge programs, as well as islandwide improvement programs and mass transit projects.

“Community engagement is a big part of our required federal process to get federal highway and transit funds for the state,” Harry Takiue, engineering program manager in the state Department of Transportation’s Hawaii District Office, told participants in a remote public coordination meeting last month.

The creation of a “fiscally unconstrained” list of projects was the first step, followed by the first round of public coordination meetings. Following the public comment period, the state DOT evaluates and “fiscally constrains” the project list. It plans a second round of public meetings in July or August. The STIP will be submitted in early September to the federal government, which is expected to evaluate it and send it back to the state in October.

“Your comments and priorities for the project can affect the project development schedule, although not change the need for the project,” Takiue said. “If public opinion is very high, it can possibly speed up the project.”

The deadline for helping the state prioritize its projects by taking the survey is June 28.

The survey, along with descriptions of the projects, can be found at

More information about the STIP process can be found at

Federal money is divvied up to the counties based on daily vehicle miles traveled.

Hawaii Island’s roughly 4 million miles traveled annually equate to about 16% of the state total, bringing in about $29.3 million in project funding annually.

Projects listed on the STIP must align with the county’s long-range plan as well as the statewide transportation plan to be eligible.

There must also be some local matching funds.

Projects must be ready to go the first year they’re expected to be funded. For example, a project slated for construction must be shovel-ready with approved plans, specifications and estimates.

Major West Hawaii projects, along with estimated total project cost, on the list:

HS2. Daniel K. Inouye Highway Extension, Mamalahoa Highway to Queen Kaahumanu Highway, $100 million — New roadway and/or realignment and extending Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Kona terminus at Mamalahoa Highway to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

HS18. Kuakini Highway Intersection Improvements at Lako Street, $1.5 million — Intersection operational improvements at Kuakini Highway and Lako Street to improve traffic flow and congestion.

HS16. Kawaihae Road Waiaka Stream Bridge Replacement and Realignment of Approaches $14.7 million — Replacing the existing Waiaka Stream Bridge, realigning the bridge approaches, reconstructing the Route 19/Route 250 intersection and installing safety improvements.

HS23. Waimea Regional Safety Improvements $24 million — Improve vehicular congestion and safety for multimodal users by constructing a roundabout, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, median turn lanes, and signal timing adjustment.

Major East Hawaii projects, along with estimated total project cost, on the list:

HS14. Hilo Bayfront Highway, Intersection Improvements at Waianuenue Avenue $7.3 million.

HS15. Kamehameha Avenue Intersection Improvements at Lihiwai Street and Manono Street $1.5 million.

HS17. Keaau-Pahoa Road Improvements, Keaau Bypass to Pahoa-Kapoho Road $140 million.

HS4. Hawaii Belt Road, Bridge Rehabilitation/Replacement, Hakalau Bridge $37.5 million.

HS5. Hawaii Belt Road, Bridge Repair, Kolekole Stream Bridge $28 million.

HS6. Hawaii Belt Road, Bridge Replacement, Wailuku Bridge $30 million.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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