Hawaiian Mayor in Favor of Starting $1B Project

Sat October 13, 2007 - West Edition

HILO, Hawaii (AP) Big Island Mayor Harry Kim is cautiously optimistic that work will begin soon to complete construction of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass road.

“We want to get this going,” Kim said. “This is something that the people want and need.”

The 5.5-mi. (8.8 km) project received the green light Sept. 25 from Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra, who ruled there was a valid public purpose when Hawaii County condemned three acres of property needed for the bypass.

“It’s been a long and frustrating road, not just for us, but for the residents who have been wondering what was going on,” Kim said. “I’m very happy that we have passed this hurdle and can move on.”

The road is being constructed by 1250 Oceanside Partners, the parent company of luxury development Hokulia. About half of the work is done.

The Mamalahoa Highway bypass will tie into Alii Parkway, providing regional traffic movement along the coastline from Napoopoo to Kailua-Kona.

“This is a big win for the Kona community,” John DeFries, chief executive officer of Hokulia, said of Ibarra’s decision. “This is about a definitely needed community benefit and how the way has now been opened for Oceanside to get it done.”

In March 2006, Ibarra approved a settlement that cleared the way for completion of Hokulia. He accepted the settlement reached between the developer and the four people whose lawsuit led him to stop construction in September 2003.

Ibarra originally ruled the $1 billion project along the Kona Coast was an illegal use of agricultural land.