Hawaii DOT Widens Queen Kaahumanu Highway
While it is not exactly an extreme athletic event like the Ironman Challenge, the current project to widen the Queen Kaahumanu Highway on the Big Island of Hawaii has required some endurance and perseverance during it's various phases.
The project site is a portion of the Hawaii Belt Road, State Highway 19, on the Big Island of Hawaii is named in her honor. It connects the towns of Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae. Often referred to by locals as "the Queen K," It also provides access to the Kona International Airport. The road is also used for the bicycle and running portions of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon, and ensuring that construction work would not interfere with the annual event was important to the community.
Minimizing Community Impacts
The Queen Kaahumanu Highway Widening Project, Phase 2, includes the widening of an existing two-lane highway into a four-lane divided highway within the 300-foot right-of-way between the Keahole Airport Road and Kealakehe Parkway.
The project area is approximately 5.2 miles long and 300 feet wide and connects to a previous project that widened from Kealakehe to Henry Street.
To minimize impacts to the community, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) included necessary infrastructure from county departments and private developments into the project. These portions were funded by those parties.
"Once complete, the project will help bring traffic relief by increasing capacity and improving vehicle flow for the West Hawaii community, particularly near the Kona International Airport at Keahole. The funding for the project is coming from a coalition of sources including the Federal Highway Administration, HDOT, Hawaii County Department of Water Supply, Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management and private resources."
Tim Sakahara, of the HDOT Public Affairs Office, added, "The funding contributions from Hawaii County, the State Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and private sources totaled $9 million. The funding will help install a new waterline, install new wastewater gravity lines and recycled water lines, install utilities and construct a new signalized intersection."
"The average annual daily traffic count for Queen Kaahumanu Highway near the Kona International Airport at Keahole is 25,000 vehicles," said Sakahara.
The FHWA approved the highway widening as design-build project. HDOT had finished phase one construction, from Palani Road to Kealakehe Parkway, in 2009.
Work began shortly after contractor Goodfellow Bros., Inc. received Construction Notice to Proceed from the State, effective September 1, 2015. According to the contractor's public information website, the first day of earthwork was September 8, 2015 starting north of Keahole Airport and working south. Within a couple of weeks crews had reached a point south of OTEC Road and were shifting their attention to importing local fill material to the makai (sea-facing) side of the existing roadway. With speeds reduced to 35 miles per hour, the existing roadway remained open in both the north and south directions.
Given the roadbed that spans lava fields, the contractor had anticipated that much of the project corridor would require hard rock excavation to with heavy ripping, hydraulic hammering, and potentially the use of drilling and blasting.
By the time the Ironman Triathalon came around in October, mass excavation had moved further south and was approaching the Pine Tree entrance at Kohanaiki. Installation of culvert extensions had begun in the north end of the project. Meanwhile, the new southbound roadway began to take shape with more fill being imported to bring the new southbound lanes up to grade.
After the race, work crews continued to lay down finer material on the new south-bound lanes. The first of the largest culverts was laid and back filled, and work began on the next culverts south of the airport.
Crushing and Moving Material
By November clearing and pioneering activities were approaching the north end of the national park. Crews were also continuing to crush down boulder materials to be placed in fill areas and to back fill drainage facilities throughout the site. Waterline installation was about to begin with waterline pipe staged throughout the site, waiting to be installed as trench is constructed.
By December, work crews had started into the final cut of the mass excavation to establish the full sub-grade for the new widened highway. By that point in the project, 76,000 cubic yards of material had been excavated from the existing ground, and slightly under 100,000 cubic yards of material had been imported from offsite. Later in the month work crews progressed south beyond the entrance to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park. They made a final push of clearing and grubbing followed by mass grading to connect with the existing roadway on the south side of the entrance to Honokohau Boat Harbor.
In January 2016, crews had started the excavation of drain inlet structures and manholes and the contractor was working with vendors to produce precast structures to be installed starting at the end of the month. By early March, crews were in the process of digging, laying, and back filling reclaim waterline, sewer, and drain inlet structures.
Avoiding Historical Locations
The project then hit a snag, as design changes needed to be made by the contractor and approved by the state. The design was changed to avoid historical sites at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. The change required a shrinking of the median and placement of a retaining wall.
Once the details were ironed out, work continued, with the contractor anticipating no delay in final completion of the project.
As the Ironman World Championship took place in October this year, the project was continuing with installation of gravity sewer and reclaimed water lines. Street light and interconnect conduit installation began between the National Park and Kealakehe intersection. The contractor was also completing the culvert outlet structures and anticipated pouring concrete for the remaining structures in October.
In other areas, the crews have been working to install shallow drywells throughout the south section of the project. Finalizing the installation of culverts continue with the completion of the outlet structures.
Although it seems that work on the project has slowed down a bit, we have been actively working on the underground utility work. The utility work continues between Kealakehe intersection and the National Park entrance.