Airport access road funds released

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released $6 million for construction of the Kahului Airport access road, one of the larger amounts in $70.2 million the governor released for capital improvement projects statewide.

The funds, which will be matched by $24 million in federal money, will be used to build the phase of the highway from the Puunene Avenue/Kuihelani Highway intersection to Hana Highway.

The new road will travel northeast from the revamped Puunene Avenue/Kuihelani Highway intersection, curve slightly away from the homes on the north side of Dairy Road and intersect with Pakaula Street, which leads to Walmart. At that intersection, motorists also will be able to access Dairy Road.

From there, the new road will wind through a corridor between Walmart and the Maui Marketplace, through a currently undeveloped portion of A&B’s Maui Business Park to Hana Highway.

At the Hana Highway intersection, the state had been mulling several alternatives from a freeway-style ramp overpass – the most expensive option at an estimated $45 million – to traffic signals – the cheapest alternative at an estimated $25 million.

The traffic signal option for the Hana Highway-airport access road intersection was selected, said Caroline Sluyter, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The project will be advertised by the end of this month, with construction expected to begin in late summer, she said. The work will take 12 to 18 months to complete.

The next phase of the airport access road will take the highway to the airport and is being designed separately by the state Airports Division, Transportation Department officials said early last year.

The governor also released $2.5 million for Phase I of the Central Maui Regional Park. The money will be used to develop a 66-acre regional park in the Wailuku-Waikapu region, near Pomaikai Elementary School. The park will include baseball and softball fields, bathrooms, open space and parking.

Mayor Alan Arakawa lauded the release of funds.

“I’m grateful for the governor’s assistance in meeting the growing needs of our community for active playing fields and open space,” said Arakawa in a statement.

He added that the park will complement the county’s plans for a larger 200-acre-plus park nearby with the same name. The county is currently negotiating with A&B to purchase the site located mauka of Kuihelani Highway and south of Waiko Road.

The two Central Maui Regional Parks will not be contiguous and will be separated by homes, said the mayor. Walking and bike paths will connect the two parks, Arakawa added.

“This state park is an important addition to the county’s Central Maui Regional Park, which we have been moving ahead with land acquisition, surveys and master planning in the next fiscal year,” he said.

The park and airport road were part of the $70.2 million the governor released for capital improvement projects. The governor has released more than $959.7 million for CIP over the last year, the news release said.

“These projects, which range from upgrades at health facilities to improvements at state parks, represent significant, long-range investments that will continue to stimulate our island economy and generate local jobs,” said Abercrombie.

“As detailed in the fiscal biennium budget presented last month to the state Legislature, we intend to continue these important priority projects, which improve our public infrastructure and facilities while enhancing the economic landscape.”

Other Maui County projects receiving funds included:

* $1.5 million (and $6.2 million in federal funds) for the rehabilitation and widening of the Iao Stream Bridge. The work will bring the bridge up to current seismic design and vehicular loading standards, be widened to provide access for pedestrians and bicycles and be improved to increase drainage capabilities. Waiehu Beach Road also is part of the project.

* $580,000 for replacement of the current nurse call system at Kula Hospital.

* A total of $670,000 for three projects at Maui Memorial Medical Center – to install energy-efficient lights, to remove an underground storage tank and install an above-ground storage tank to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other standards, and to design, construct and purchase equipment needed for an energy audit and to install energy-saving equipment.

* $348,560 for replacement of the central boiler system at Maui Community Correctional Center. The existing hot water boiler system was more than 18 years old and provided hot water for laundry, dishwashing, food service and basic hygiene.

* Lee Imada can be reached at