By CHELSEA JENSEN
The new Ane Keohokalole Highway should provide motorists some relief during the 2012 Ironman World Championship, however, the multitude of road closures in Kona could still trigger some headaches.
Opened in June, the 3-mile-long highway connecting Palani Road to Hina Lani Street gives drivers an alternate route to reach destinations in North Kona, including Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and the Kealakehe and Kaloko light industrial areas, without having to detour via Mamalahoa Highway. In prior years, access to the harbor was restricted after 7 a.m.
“Definitely, any road above Queen Kaahumanu Highway helps,” said Hawaii Police Department Criminal Investigations Section Capt. Sam Kawamoto, who provided Ironman road information on behalf of Kona Patrol Capt. Richard Sherlock, who was out of the office. “But, the best thing will be for people to avoid the whole downtown and highway areas.”
Motorists are advised to plan ahead and allow extra time to reach their destination. Those needing to reach the airport are urged to use Kaiminani Drive, while those headed to resorts should use Waikoloa and Kawaihae roads.
Here is a breakdown of the slated road closures — including several that go into effect today in the downtown Kailua-Kona area. Officers will direct traffic at the affected areas.
Kailua Pier and Kaahumanu Place will be closed from 9 a.m. today to noon Sunday.
The section of road between Likana Lane and Kailua Pier will be closed from 9 a.m. today until noon Sunday.
The section from Likana Lane to Hualalai Road will be closed from 9 a.m. until midnight Saturday.
The southbound lane of Alii Drive will be closed between Hualalai Road and Kahaluu Beach Park from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
The section of road between Alii Drive and Kuakini Highway will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday.
On Kuakini Highway:
On Saturday, the section between Palani Road and Makala Boulevard will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; traffic won’t be allowed on the stretch between Palani and Hualalai roads from 6:30 a.m. to noon with southbound lanes in the area remaining closed until midnight.
The section of road between Palani Road heading south toward the Kahakai Estates subdivision will only be open to local traffic from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
The section between Kailua Pier and King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel will be closed from 9 a.m. today to noon Sunday. The area between the hotel and Kuakini Highway will be closed from 6 a.m. to midnight Saturday.
The makai-bound lanes and one mauka-bound lane of Palani Road between Kuakini and Queen Kaahumanu highways will be closed from 6 a.m. until midnight Saturday.
The stretch of road between Kuakini and Queen Kaahumanu highways is closed from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Queen Kaahumanu Highway:
The stretch between Henry Street and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday.
From NELHA to Kawaihae Road, the highway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Those traveling to the airport on Saturday should use Kaiminani Drive and those traveling to resorts should use Waikoloa Road, both accessible via Mamalahoa Highway.
Akoni Pule Highway:
— Akoni Pule Highway, between its junction with Kawaihae Road and Hawi, will be closed between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Access to Hawi is via Kohala Mountain Road from Waimea.
For more information, visit ironmanworldchampionship.com/course or call the road closure hot line at 334-3400.
Email Chelsea Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.