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Nearly $70 million will go toward Maui County projects

State funds will cover road improvements, school repairs and conservation work

Construction for the Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary fence replacement, a project aimed to protect endangered waterbirds at the sanctuary, is estimated to be completed by August 2022. DLNR photo

Public facilities and nature conservation work are among the projects that will receive funding after the state released a total of $69,762,356 to fund capital improvement projects in Maui County.

Gov. David Ige announced last week the release of $601,940,684 for CIPs statewide. The funds were released in April, May, June, July and August.

“We are building on the efforts of previous years to enhance and rejuvenate a wide range of public infrastructure that is necessary for the well-being and safety of Hawaii’s residents,” Ige said in a news release. “As we continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19, we want to ensure that Hawaii has the resources to fill critical needs, as well as support opportunities and conservation efforts.”

In the transportation sector, $1 million was released to cover the full cost of Honoapiilani Highway improvements from Mile Post 10.5 to Mile Post 18.0, with construction slated for completion by January 2023.

To mitigate rockfall incidents on Hana Highway from Huelo to Hana, $12.4 million in funding was released to finance the design and construction of rockfall protection and slope stabilization at various locations between those points.

Infrastructure improvements, which will cost around $9.5 million, will be made to Kula Agricultural Park in the coming months, with construction slated for completion in March 2022. Gov. David Ige recently released $3.5 million for the project. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

About $6.4 million was released to repave runway 17-35 and taxiway E at Molokai Airport.

Based on the awarded funds and contract, the total project will cost about $15.6 million, with construction slated to be completed by the summer of 2023, state Department of Transportation spokesperson Jai Cunningham said.

“The runway 17-35 and taxiway E along with associated features, (like) drainage, were identified for rehabilitation,” Cunningham said. “Maintaining our taxiways and runways allows us to continue service at airports across the state.”

According to the governor’s news release, an additional $1 million was released to fund land and design for rehabilitation of Honolua Bridge along Honoapiilani Highway. Total project costs are $1,297,915 and construction is anticipated to be done by June 2023.

Ige also released just over $15.7 million to finance the design and construction of hold room and gate improvements at Kahului Airport. The project’s total costs are about $65 million and construction should be done by December 2023.

Other highlights included:

• The Maui District Baseyard Office project, which includes design and construction for the expansion and renovation of the building, is receiving $5.7 million. Completion is scheduled for July 2023.

• Napili Bay and Beach Foundation Inc. will receive $75,000 for the removal of public access stairs. The project, which cost around $155,000, was completed in May to provide a new structure for public access to Napili Beach.

• Another $3.5 million was released to fund agricultural infrastructure improvements to Kula Agricultural Park. Total project costs are $9.5 million and construction is anticipated to be completed by March 2022.

• Baldwin High School received $7 million in funding for the design and construction of physical education and athletic facilities, which should be ready by December 2024.

• Kihei Elementary School is being allocated $270,000 for design improvements, with a completion date of February 2022. The school is to comply with current ADA standards.

• The Kahului Public Library project is receiving $200,000 to finance planning to study and identify needs for the integration of the new Kahului Public Library into the state Department of Accounting and General Services’ Kahului Mixed-use Civic Center Complex. It’s slated for completion by August 2023.

Ige also released funding for major facilities, including the hospital and jail. A total of $12 million will fully finance various capital improvement projects for Maui Health Systems, including renovations, upgrades and repairs. This work is anticipated to be done by November 2022.

The Maui Community Correctional Center is receiving about $1.2 million to assist with a nearly $4.8 million project that would construct the relocation of the on-grade chiller for Modules A, B, C and D to make room for a new module, which is set to be done by November 2023.

Funds also were released to help with local conservation efforts, including to construct a barrier fence at Maliko Gulch to prevent the spread of invasive coqui frogs.

The Coqui Frog Eradication Containment Barrier project will cost around $1.5 million in total but received $750,000. Construction is estimated to be done by December 2022.

Maui Invasive Species Committee spokesperson Serena Fukushima said last week that the project is in its planning phase and more details will be released later.

There are 13 populations of coqui frogs on Maui living in and around nurseries and hotels, residential areas and several large natural areas, according to the MISC website. There are currently no populations of coqui detected on Molokai.

A single female frog can produce 1,400 eggs per year.

MISC developed a coqui acoustic monitoring program in 2020 and has a full-time crew that spends a lot of time clearing habitat and controlling coqui frogs around Maui.

Other environmental efforts that will be funded include conservation work in Kanaio. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is developing management plans and preparing environmental assessments for two projects in Kanaio.

The Kanaio Dry Forest Fence Release project is being allotted $300,000 to construct fencing at Kanaio Natural Area Reserve to protect native species from hooved animals.

The Kanaio Resource Protection Plans project was allotted $800,000 for the construction of a fence to protect culturally sensitive areas and critical habitat around Pu’u Pimoe.

DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife intends to seek public comments on those projects before the end of the year. Both are anticipated to be completed by June 2023.

“Feral ungulates are not native to the Hawaiian Islands and can damage native ecosystems, especially endangered plants that are susceptible to browsing and grazing,” DOFAW said in a statement Friday to The Maui News. “Establishing fenced areas enables us to remove the feral ungulates and keep them out and ensure that the habitat supports sustainable natural resources.”

Additionally, Ige released $300,000 in funding to finance the $1.3 million replacement of the rusting fence at Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary with a fence to keep predators from attacking endangered waterbirds and damaging vegetation. Fed by freshwater and prehistorically a true wetland, Kanaha Pond is now a highly modified but still functioning wetland that serves as a flood control basin as well as a wildlife sanctuary, according to DLNR, which worked with the county to clear vehicles and trash from around the sanctuary last week.

“We are on the verge of getting the fence built,” said Sasha Smith, the DOFAW technician who has watched over the sanctuary for a decade. “The permanent encampments on Amala Place made it impossible to proceed with the project, but thanks to the division working diligently to come up with federal grant funding, matched with state funding, we’re close.”

August 2022 is the estimated completion date.

A release of $950,000 in funding was allocated to Hawaiian Home Lands to go toward costs of a $10.5 million project that includes lot development and engineering services for roadway access, water and electrical service at the Na’iwa Subdivision. This project is estimated to be done by June 2022.

To provide drinking water to both state projects and county domestic water users, Ige released $250,000 in funding for the development of a water well in the Upcountry area.

Total project costs are about $1.2 million and the estimated completion date is July 2022.

The site for the well is located near the Kealaloa Water Tank on Haleakala Ranch lands. The Maui County Department of Water Supply said Friday that with increased growth, additional sources will be needed to meet the demand for water.

“This will also allow for greater reliability for our customers,” the department said.

To view the full list of capital improvement projects across Hawaii, visit governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Capital-Improvement-Projects.pdf.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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