Hawaii County officials celebrated the groundbreaking for a nearly $27.9 million roadway that will add another 2.2 miles to the 3.5-mile Māmalahoa Highway Bypass in South Kona.

The bypass currently runs from the southern part of Keauhou to the end of Halekii Street. The project will extend the roadway to a new intersection between Māmalahoa Highway and Nāpoopoo Road and provide an alternate route for many Kona residents who commute along Māmalahoa Highway.

Mayor Billy Kenoi

Sophie Cocke/ Civil Beat

“The main thing is that people spend more time with their families at home and less time frustrated in traffic,” Kenoi said in a press release. “Our job is to alleviate and mitigate that congestion. It’s not about asphalt. It’s about connecting family and friends.”

Isemoto Contracting Co. is building the project, which is scheduled to be done in 2016.

Here’s a timeline delineating the roadway’s history, via a Hawaii County press release:

1960 – A Māmalahoa Relief Highway was first envisioned in “A Plan For Kona,” a document prepared with community input for the State Planning Office. The plan was transmitted to the Hawai‘i County Board of Supervisors, the predecessor of today’s Hawai‘i County Council.

1996 ­– In rezoning the area that would become Hōkūli‘a, County ordinances formalized the developer’s agreement with the community to complete the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass from Keauhou to Captain Cook.

1999 – The Environmental Impact Statement for the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass was completed. Developer 1250 Oceanside Partners broke ground on the Hōkūli‘a development, the first phase of which included the northern segment of the road.

2008 – The County proposed a number of improvements prior to the opening of the northern segment of the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass. Improvements included work along Ali‘i Drive, along Haleki‘i Street, and on Māmalahoa Highway. These improvements allowed residents to benefit immediately from the northern segment of the bypass before the southern segment was completed.

March 2009 – Under a grant of easement in anticipation of dedicating the road to the County, the northern segment of the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass opened to limited traffic – one lane southbound from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. on weekdays only. On March 10, the first day it was open, 650 vehicles took the drive from Keauhou to Kealakekua.

June 2010 – The Māmalahoa Highway Bypass between Keauhou and Haleki‘i Street opened to northbound and southbound traffic from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

2012 – The northern segment of the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass and the .8-mile portion of Haleki‘i Street makai of Muli Street was dedicated to the County.

January 2013 – The Māmalahoa Highway Bypass opened daily, 24 hours a day. Restrictions on vehicle types and sizes were removed.

November 2013 – The Hawai‘i County Council passed a resolution regarding the Māmalahoa Highway Bypass, renaming it Ali‘i Drive.

July 2014 – Ground was broken for the southern segment of Māmalahoa Highway Bypass, which will extend 2.2 miles from the Haleki‘i Street intersection to Māmalahoa Highway at Nāpo‘opo‘o. Roadway work will commence immediately. Work on the Māmalahoa Highway junction at Nāpo‘opo‘o is scheduled to begin in the fall.

2016 – The southern segment of Māmalahoa Highway Bypass is scheduled to open, completing Ali‘i Drive from Kailua to Nāpo‘opo‘o.

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