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Construction Zone

Millions in capital improvements underway on Molokai.

Molokai was awarded over $17 million to fund 21 capital improvement projects this year. The wide-ranging list includes repairs to schools, roadways and the island’s water system. 

The projects vary in progress – some are still accepting bids from contractors while others are underway or completed.

The most expensive project on the list is the construction of a new bridge over Kawela Stream on Kamehameha V Highway. The current bridge has long been blamed for compounding seasonal flooding along the stream. Its replacement is estimated to cost $7.4 million.

“The existing bridge doesn’t meet current design standards,” said Vincent Llorin, design project manager with the state’s Department of Transportation.

The new bridge will have wider footing and increased water flow capacity underneath. Because the area is a flood zone, however, the improvements “won’t totally resolve the flooding issue,” Llorin said.

A construction start date has yet to be determined.

Another one of the pricier projects on the list is the installation of an emergency electrical generator and monitoring system for Molokai’s water systems. The generator will provide backup power to several of the island’s well sites, according to Herb Chang, an engineer with the county’s Department of Water Supply.

Combined, the water projects are estimated to cost $800,000.

Improved Ferry Facilities

The Kaunakakai Wharf ferry facilities will also be worked on. The current facilities do not adequately serve ferry operation needs, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

Proposed improvements include converting the existing shelter into restrooms and building a new 625-square foot shelter next to it, both of which would require new water and sewer lines.

So far, the project has been allocated $3.4 million for design and construction costs, $2.7 million of which is federal funds, according to DLNR. Design is underway, and construction is expected to begin in December and last one year. Ferry service will not be interrupted by the proposed project.

Classroom Clean-up

Many Molokai schools will also benefit from the capital improvement funds. Kaunakakai, Kualapu`u, Kilohana and Maunaloa elementary schools are all slated for improvements, as is Molokai High School. Projects range from roofing repairs to classroom and bathroom renovations to resurfacing of playgrounds and courts.

Kaunakakai and Kualapu`u elementary schools each received “whole school renovations” which cost about $1.4 and $1.2 million respectfully. Work at Kaunakakai started six months ago and is now finishing up, according to Principal Janice Espiritu.

“Everything is newly painted inside and out,” Espiritu said. “They put in new light fixtures, door handles and locks — it’s like a brand new school.”

Work at Kualapu`u Elementary started last summer and is also wrapping up.

Statewide, 827 capital improvement projects are underway, totaling $1.8 billion. In all, the work creates nearly 24,000 jobs in the construction industry and related sectors, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“We remain focused on working collaboratively with the construction industry, trade unions and counties to help revitalize our economy and create jobs,” Gov. Linda Lingle said in a press release.

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