By NANCY COOK LAUER
The Mamalahoa Bypass is now officially open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, following road improvements and the transfer of the property from 1250 Oceanside Partners to the county.
The bypass, located midway between the shoreline and Mamalahoa Highway, starts at the southern edge of Keauhou and runs about three miles to the bottom of Hallekii Street in Kealakekua’s Scenic Kona subdivision. Future plans will extend the bypass from Halekii Street to the junction of Mamalahoa Highway and Napoopoo Road.
Mayor Billy Kenoi has said opening this critical link between North Kona and South Kona has been a priority of his since his election in 2008. He said many South Kona residents work in North Kona or South Kohala and the bypass helps alleviate traffic congestion and motorist frustration.
“The more we improve our island’s road infrastructure and mass transit system, the less time our working people will be spending in traffic and the more time they will be spending at home with their families,” Kenoi said. “(The bypass) is yet another important piece of infrastructure critical to improving the traffic situation for the people of West Hawaii.”
The bypass has been open on a limited basis since 2009, in one direction for limited hours. Later, traffic was extended to two directions for longer hours.
Since then, the Department of Public Works has paved the shoulders, installed guardrails, removed a speed hump, restored the road at the Alii drive entrance, removed stop signs and striped turn lanes at the Halekii street intersection. Signs prohibiting bicycles, pedestrians, mo-peds, scooters and vehicles over three tons were removed.
The 45 mph posted speed limit on the bypass and the 25 mph speed limit on Halekii Street will remain.
The Hawaii County Council accepted the road lots from 1250 Oceanside during its Dec. 19 meeting at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
“There’s so much appreciation we can have for moving this forward in a timely manner,” central Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha said at the time.