A Smoother Ride

Molokai gets $18 million in highway improvements.
By Sean Aronson

By now, Molokai residents have surely noticed the improved roadways on the island.  From the east in Halawa to the west by the airport, there’s a whole lot of new pavement and reflective markers to marvel at.  But these improvements are not just cosmetic, they’re practical too.

“We are not only providing a necessary duty, but we are also increasing the safety of driving on Molokai,” said Brennon Morioka, Director of the Department of Transportation for Hawaii.

Morioka spoke on Molokai last week for a Highway blessing to commemorate the recent completion of three major improvements to island roads and bridges, totaling more than $18 million.  The road resurfacing was completed in February. The two projects were Waialua to Halawa and Kaunakakai to Hoolehua, together totaling 10 miles of road on Molokai. The third project was an emergency replacement of Kawaikapu Bridge on the east end.

Sen. Kalani English, who is chair of the Transportation Committee, also attended the blessing and said he was most proud of the fact that nearly 80 percent of the road work was done by Molokai residents.

“The roads are great, but getting this island some jobs is my top priority,” said English.

Many of those employees were trained on the job and will be employed by Maui Paving for future projects, says Ron Aroyan, lead manager for Maui Paving.

Many of the completed projects were in areas that had not seen major upgrades for decades.  For instance, the stretch of road into Halawa Valley had not been completely paved in nearly 40 years.  And the Kawaikapu Bridge had stood for nearly as long.

DOT. director Morioka said he believes Molokai has received a generous helping of transportation projects, but he also recognizes there are places that could still use help.

As for the future, there is one project slated to begin at the end of March. It will be a guardrail and shoulder improvement project along Kamehameha V Highway between Kapuokoolau and Kamalo.  The project will widen the shoulder to 4 feet on both sides and add new white edge lines and reflective pavement markers, similar to work done on other stretches of the highway.

The blessing was performed by Kahu Reynolds Ayau of Ierusalema Hou Church.

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