Work nears beginning
on 6-lane Ewa road

Officials say the project could
start as early as December

State transportation officials say they are looking to break ground on a major roadway in Ewa as early as December, more than 20 years after plans for the thoroughfare were first presented to Leeward Oahu residents.

"I was a senior in high school the first time I heard of an alternative to Fort Weaver Road," said Ewa Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Tesha Malama. "Now it's 21 years later, and we're finally on the brink of getting it."

Art The Transportation Department issued a draft environmental assessment on the road late last month, and is soliciting comments until Aug. 23.

A public hearing on the project is expected to be held within the next several months.

Once completed, the 2.5-mile North-South Road will connect a yet-to-be-built extension of Makakilo Drive with an extended Kapolei Parkway and give Ewa residents a new H-1 freeway entrance ramp.

State Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the first phase of the six-lane North-South Road will cost $30 million.

By 2006, three lanes of the road -- one in each direction with a center lane to be used for contraflow during peak hours -- is expected to be completed.

Ishikawa said the project's second phase will finish off the road. Its completion date depends on when the Transportation Department can get an estimated $80 million in funding from the Legislature.

Malama said the road will not solve Leeward Oahu's traffic problems, but it could alleviate peak-hour traffic jams.

"The North-South Road is vital for us," she said. "We're excited to see it."

The start date of the roadwork hinges on whether the environmental assessment process for the road goes well.

Eight years ago the project was put on hold after the endangered red ilima plant was found in the road's path.

The recently released draft environmental assessment includes a Habitat Conservation Plan for red ilima at the site. It also determines that the thoroughfare will have "no significant impacts and is consistent with developing the necessary infrastructure for Kapolei to emerge as Oahu's second city."

Ishikawa said the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has already approved and started to implement the conservation plan for red ilima. He said 850 cuttings and seeds have been propagated at Kaena Point, Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, Koko Crater Botanical Garden and Diamond Head State Park.

More work is expected later this year.

The red ilima had been assumed extinct on Oahu until several plants were discovered in 1996.

The most recent draft assessment for the road is a revised edition of one released in 1998, which did not include a plan on how to preserve red ilima at the site.

State Department of Transportation


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