Big Island road construction and other improvement projects are continuing at a brisk pace. Here are some highlights to look for:
SADDLE ROAD (Hawaii Hwy 200)
Do you remember the days when the Saddle Road was a prohibited highway on all rental car contracts? The Department of the Army constructed the original one-lane road in 1942 to provide access to its military training facilities located in the “saddle” between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. While planning for the defense of the Hawaiian Islands in the wake of the attack on Pear Harbor, the army hastily built an access road across the Humuʻula plateau of Parker Ranch. It was never intended as a civilian road and Military vehicles of all types traversed the gravel road during this period. In 1945, following the end of Word War II the Army turned over jurisdiction of the road to the Territory of Hawaii and it was designated “State Route 20”. However, the territorial government had few funds to maintain the road, let alone upgrade it to civilian standards. Much of the paving until the recent reconstruction dated from 1949. The current reconstruction and realignment of the highway should be completed weather permitting by August. Although the western terminus is currently at Highway 190, the final extension on the western side connecting to Queen Kaahumanu Highway will be completed at a date in the future yet to be determined. To learn more click on the Big Island map image.
Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway
Work continues on the second phase of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway widening the road from Kona International Airport to the area just past the entrance to Honokohau Harbor. Due to improvements to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway fronting the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, the entrance road and Visitor Center will be closed from approximately June 19th – July 2nd, 2017. For all the latest updates click on the construction picture.
Hilo International Airport is about to get a facelift. More than $19 million will be spent on safety renovations, remodeling, and other designs for future improvement. The airport is a key transportation hub for East Hawaii tourism, business travelers, and residents. Visit the Hilo Airport website to explore travel options available in East Hawaii.
State and County officials continue to debate the future redevelopment of Banyan Drive. This process has gone on for many years but with the recent beautiful remodel of the Naniloa Hotel as an example, it is hoped that government planners will now move forward soon with the rest of the renovation of this historic and cultural landmark area.