Traffic and concerns over seabirds delay $10 million road project

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Delays for a nearly $10 million road project in Waimanalo have residents angry and frustrated. 

They reached out to KHON2 to find out what’s taking so long and when the work will be done.

The work started two years ago and was supposed to be done last year. KHON2 found out that there’s a list of reasons for the delay. And among them, endangered seabirds.

The work done on Kalanianaole Highway between Olomana Golf Course and Poalima Street started in 2016. It includes adding left turn lanes, road reconstruction, along with utility and drainage improvements. 

Total cost is $9.8 million. Shortly after work started, it drew lots of complaints because of serious traffic delays.

“Once we started getting the complaints rolling in, then we basically changed strategies and went to night closures,” said Shelly Kunishige, Hawaii Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
“So currently work is only being done at night?” KHON2 asked.
“Yes,” she said.

So that changed the timeline drastically. And with equipment blocking driveways and the noise from the night work, residents are losing their patience.

“I was told it was gonna take at least a year and a year passed by, and I was told it was gonna take another year. It just seems like it’s crazy. It’s just never ending,” said resident Robert Hu.

“How much of a pain has it been for you?” KHON2 asked.
“Probably words I can’t say on TV,” said resident Kassey Kossman.

The contractor says shearwater birds are also causing delays. Lights can disorient the seabirds, which are protected. So night work is not allowed during their mating season, from September 15 to December 15.

“So what can you do if you can’t do night or day work?” KHON2 asked.
“Then we would basically wait until the shearwater mating season is completed,” said Kunishige.

Rain and utility work also caused delays. The state says it’s looking more now that the project will be done early next year.

“I just want it done. I guess when it’s not in front of our house I feel better, but I just want all of this stuff out of the way,” said Hu.

The state says that even with the delays, the price tag will stay at $9.8 million. Eighty percent of that is paid by the federal government. 

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