$8 million set aside for new Ewa road
The funds will allow grading work for the North-South Road, state officials say
Residents and state officials hope to finish the long-overdue North-South Road construction project before new developments in the Ewa area are completed.
Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday released about $8.1 million to complete the design work and land purchases for the first phase of the road project, which began construction in fall last year. About $5.6 million in federal highway funds also will be used toward the first phase.
The road is expected to provide a third access to the H-1 freeway for Ewa and Kapolei residents. Residents drive up to 45 minutes on Fort Weaver Road to reach the freeway.
"The traffic is so bad every day, and it's going to get worse," said Ewa Neighborhood board member Jeff Alexander, referring to the impending residential and commercial construction in the area. "It's taking so long it's ridiculous."
Much of the delay in building the 2.5-mile road can be attributed to relocating the red ilima, a native Hawaiian plant that grows at the site, said state Transportation Director Rod Haraga.
"We have an obligation to protect the environment," Haraga said.
With the money released yesterday, Haraga said grading work will begin. The state Department of Transportation will build a retention basin to regain the water because the area is a drainage plain.
The entire project may cost up to $100 million, depending on the bids for future contracts. Rising fuel costs have hiked up construction costs, Haraga said.
Time is of the essence, he said, because of impending projects that will depend on the road, including a subdivision by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the University of Hawaii West Oahu campus.
A four-lane configuration of the North-South Road should be done by the end of 2008. Two more lanes will be built into the road at a later date. The design contract for future developments will be advertised by the end of this year.
"Well, as long as we get it someday," Alexander said. "We needed this road 10 years ago."