Saturday | March 25, 2017
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Puna road plan would improve traffic flow, emergency routes

Hawaii County has the plan. Now it’s a matter of getting the funding.

Public Works Director Warren Lee said he doesn’t intend to let a document with new proposed routes for Puna sit on the shelf. But roads don’t come cheap, and he said his staff will assess what it can get done with money it expects to be set aside.

“We will get cost estimates and do engineering,” Lee said. “We will see how many funds are available to get the work done.”

The plan includes 48 “connectivity locations” to improve traffic flow and create new escape routes for residents of Puna’s subdivisions during an emergency. The Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee adopted the document May 13, and sent it to the county for consideration.

So far, the department has $2 million in appropriations that it can commit to improving connectivity between subdivisions, Lee said. That money still needs to be officially allocated for it to become available.

Lee said he should know July 1 whether the allocation is made.

Of that amount, $1 million would go toward connecting South Lauko Road with Puhala Street. That connection would create a second route to Highway 11 for Fern Acres residents.

The route is among 12 the report lists as priorities.

The other $1 million could go toward planning and land acquisition for other routes the department decides to pursue, Lee said. How far that money would go isn’t entirely clear yet.

“We won’t be able to do all of them in two years,” he said.

“It will be something done over next 4-5 years, at least the engineering.”

Lee said the department will continue to meet with the action committee to discuss implementation.

Marlene Hapai, chair of Puna CDP’s Connectivity and Emergency Response Subcommittee, said the group will also continue to receive input on the proposals.

The group also plans annual reassessments of the priorities.

To view the report, visit

The document is titled 2014-26: CERS Report 4-23-14 w-maps.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-


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