They say plans for the road's route and funding are uncertain
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 1, 2013
Kauai County has signed a contract with an engineering consulting firm to review a route for a Lihue bypass road, but some County Council members are questioning whether the project will be built.
The county administration last month signed a $450,000 contract for the study with engineering consulting firm SSFM. The county's portion of the contract is $90,000, with the rest coming from federal funding through the state Department of Transportation.
County Councilman Tim Bynum said he initially supported the project because he was told the route would support the island's next landfill. He has since been told that might not be the case, and he and others want the bypass delayed, he said.
"I don't support this project at all," Bynum said. "I hate throwing away $100,000 of our taxpayers' money."
The road might run from Nukolii to Kukui Grove Center, making use of existing cane haul roads, but an exact route has not yet been decided.
County Engineer Larry Dill said the project would be a significant benefit to users of a new landfill in Maalo near Hanamaulu.
There are no assurances from the state Transportation Department that money will be available for the bypass, which could relieve traffic in Lihue, he said, because the DOT won't promise money for a project a decade into the future.
The estimated cost of the bypass is $46 million.
Consultants in the first phase of the contract will collect information on existing roads and land use. The final phase will review possible routes and include preliminary engineering, right-of-way cost estimates and potential permits and clearances needed.
Ken Tashima of the county Department of Public Works said a bypass could be 5 to 7 miles long. The study is part of the process to determine whether it is feasible.
"We don't even know if federal highways is going to even fund this," Tashima said.
Councilman Gary Hooser questioned why officials would not use $100,000 to explore options to alleviate traffic in Kapaa, the worst on the island, he said.
Dill said the bypass is a necessary project that would benefit the county and has support from the state.
Resident Darla Cox told The Garden Island that she has lived on Kauai for a decade and has seen traffic on Kuhio Highway between Kapaa and Lihue go from "a little bit better to worse."
"It's horrible — it's really horrible, actually, especially going toward Kapaa town," Cox said as she shopped at Coconut MarketPlace.
She travels the route almost daily, she said, and allocates at least 30 minutes for the drive. It used to take 20 minutes, she said.