By Aaron Stene –The newly christened Daniel K. Inouye Highway is huge improvement over the old Saddle Road. 40.27 miles out of 45.97 miles has been upgraded to Federal Highway standards. The remaining 5.7 miles, which is located above Hilo, is on hold.
The acquisition of the right of way is stalled and there isn’t any funding allocated for this phase. Both of these facets go hand and hand. This project can’t be funded unless the right of way is fully acquired.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation asked the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s Office to start condemnation proceedings against the three holdout landowners in 2012. The State Attorney General’s office hasn’t heeded the HDOT’s request except to ask for more information in July 2013.
I’m deeply frustrated by the lack of urgency in this matter. The last Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase should be fast tracked, but it is stuck in bureaucratic hell instead. The Hawaii Department of Transportation needs to expedite the land acquisition, so this much-needed project can proceed and Senator Inouye’s vision fulfilled.
Aaron Stene is a resident of Kailua-Kona