Funding shortfall stalls
LCC road plan

Leeward Community College students and faculty sometimes wait 20 minutes to drive onto the campus in the morning because of a narrow access road.

chart And they will continue to wait for traffic relief.

That is because transportation officials are falling $10 million to $13 million short to build a second access road.

"Sometimes the traffic entering campus backs up to Sam's Club," said Clifford Togo, who was employed at the college for the past 10 years. "Also, in the past there were several situations in which the college had to be evacuated, and it literally took hours because there was only one one-lane exit."

State Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the department will spend $788,000 to complete the planning of the project.

But the remaining $5 million budgeted for the project would lapse; the roughly 1-mile stretch of road does not qualify for federal funding because it would "only serve a small community."

Ishikawa said the state does not have enough money budgeted to fund the project without federal assistance. The federal government normally funds about $4 for every dollar the state spends.

During an hour-long meeting Thursday, state, city and Leeward representatives discussed other options such as using City and County of Honolulu or University of Hawaii funds.

However, no agency would agree to take on the project.

In the future, the roadway could qualify for federal funding since it has the potential to serve as an access road for a proposed rail-transit stop, Hawaiian Home Lands subdivision, historic city park and Waipahu High School parking lot, but that is "many years away," said Deputy Transportation Director Brennon Morioka.

Representatives agreed to meet again in December after a draft of the environmental assessment is released. They predict the planning stage will be completed by the middle of next year, but do not know where the project will go from there.

"The question isn't, Why can't we do it? It is, How will we do it?" Morioka said.

He added that the project could be completed in 2010 at the earliest, but that was the "best-case scenario" assuming adequate funding was provided and the project did not hit other roadblocks.

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