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Bridges & Roadwork Update

By Jason Soeda
Roads and bridges provide much needed work for Hawaii construction workers. This report offers a snapshot of top projects that are either under way or were completed in recent months. For local contractors, are these jobs a sign of brighter days? One thing is for sure — they fill a critical need for local residents who appreciate a safer, quicker and generally more pleasant commute to work.

An Excellent Start

Ray Skelton, Maui regional manager for Goodfellow Bros., Inc., says 2012 is proving to be a busy year for the company. "It's off to a good start," he says. "We're hitting on all cylinders and we're moving in the right direction. We're happy for that."

However, he says, maintaining momentum in a down economy isn't easy. Goodfellow Bros. is working hard to grab every bit of work it possibly can. Skelton says that in order to survive, local companies need to be focused on delivering exceptional quality and value to their clients.

Road construction kept Goodfellow Bros. very busy in 2011. Skelton says, one of the year's many highlights is the completion of the Honoapiilani Highway Widening Project on Maui, which began in October 2009. The project widened the highway between Lahainaluna Road to Aholo Road from two lanes to four lanes, with landscaped medians, pedestrian and bike lanes and intersection upgrades. Goodfellow Bros. won a General Contractors Association of Hawaii 2011 Build Hawaii Excellence Award for the project.

Skelton says the project was beneficial to the community of Lahaina. He feels the project has greatly improved the appearance of the entrance to old Lahaina town. In addition, he says, since Honoapiilani Highway is the primary gateway into Lahaina town, the widening work has helped to relieve traffic congestion in the area, which means that motorists spend less "windshield time" and more quality time with their families.

(According to the state Department of Transportation, DOT, nearly 26,000 vehicles travel this route every day, which is currently the only access route available to parts of the island north of Lahaina.)

Also in 2011, Goodfellow Bros. completed the following road widening projects on Kauai: Kaumaulii Ala Wai Road, Kuhio Highway Waiakalua and Kekaha Roads.

A Five-Star General

Road projects are an important source of work for dck pacific construction, a company that has served the state of Hawaii for 73 years. Eric Tessem, senior vice president and general manager of dck's Honolulu office, says: "With dck pacific construction's ability to offer a full range of construction services such as building (both design-bid and design-build), infrastructure and a full complement of civil services, it allows us to round out our construction portfolio and work load. It also allows us to better manage our staffing, equipment and trades. The ability to be effective in those efforts allows us to pass those savings on to our customers and clients."

A dck-ecc pacific (a joint venture) road construction project currently ongoing is the $127.9 million design-build contract to provide architectural and engineering services for the U.S. Army Pacific Command at Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks. Known as the South Range project, this contract is the first project in Hawaii under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Grow The Army (GTA) program and the largest project let to date by the Honolulu District. dck-ecc will provide the site improvements and utilities necessary to access and support the new South Range Campus, including the complete design and construction of a brigade complex, engineer unit operations and maintenance complex, and explosive ordnance facilities. Expected project completion is March 2014.

Frankly Speaking

We asked road construction specialists Royal Contracting Co., Ltd. for two examples of their recent work. They referred us to two projects that are ongoing on Oahu: the FBI headquarters and the La Hiki road project located on the corner of Fort Barrette and Roosevelt Avenue in Kapolei.

Leonard Leong, vice president of Royal Contracting, offers his observations on this sector of the construction industry. Seeing as how roads are financed by government agency and private developers, he says 2012 will see no gains in the amount of dollars spent by private developers. Meanwhile, he says, "Government is improving existing roads by awarding a substantial amount of resurfacing contracts. This benefits the public and the asphalt paving contractor."

Leong adds, "Other contractors involved with building new roads are facing stiff competition from each other on the very few projects that are bidding…Providing home developments such as Hoopili and Koa Ridge will require miles of roads to be built. Unfortunately, these roads may not start till late 2013 or early 2014."

"Once in a Lifetime"

Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., Inc. (HDCC), one of Hawaii's oldest and largest full-service construction companies, has two noteworthy bridge projects. The first is the Papahawahawa Bridge Replacement in Hana, Maui. The scope of work for the $2.3 million project involves demolishing the existing concrete bridge (which is structurally deficient), rebuilding a one-lane bridge, constructing a drainage system, building retaining walls and installing pavement markers and signs.

Len Dempsey of HDCC says: "Papahawahawa is critical to the Hana community in upgrading the safety of their main highway link to the rest of Maui. HDCC is proud to be working in this challenging remote location to provide the new bridge that is safer for Hana and the tourist communities."

Another bridge project HDCC is working on is for the Kahoma Stream Bridge, a part of the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment. According to the company, work on the Kahoma Stream Bridge is 60 percent complete.

Dempsey says HDCC is proud of the project, which required special teamwork with the state DOT.

"This project is special for HDCC as it has been challenged by archeological finds that required significant redesign that were overcome through teamwork with the state DOT," says Dempsey. "The Kahoma Stream Bridge is a once in a lifetime bridge structure and something that HDCC can be proud of well into the future."

Breathtaking Endeavor

When we asked Unlimited Builders, LLC about its most important bridge and road projects of recent times, the kamaaina firm told us one project stands out — the $29-million widening of the Wailua Cane Haul Bridge. The 20-year-old company completed the project this past summer. It involved constructing a 510-foot, two-lane Acrow panel steel bridge on top of a narrow one-lane bridge that was once used to haul sugar cane across the Wailua River. According to the company, the new bridge has helped traffic flow much more smoothly on Kauai's east side. Furthermore, the bridge now allows for two lanes of traffic in each direction.

Unlimited Builders says: "The project involved a series of scheduling and logistical complexities, stemming primarily from the project's location in what the state DOT has called one of the busiest corridors in the state — and the only thoroughfare for motorists who need to cross the Wailua River."

For example, the company says, "When the old cane haul bridge was closed for reconstruction, all three existing lanes of traffic had to be squeezed onto the two-lane river bridge, making for even tighter traffic."

Furthermore, "The DOT also required that all construction activity be conducted between rush hour commute times, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and only on weekdays, leaving limited hours for intricate road work."

Looking back on the bridge project, Jay Manzano, Unlimited's president, says the endeavor provided meaningful work for Unlimited Builders. Manzano says: "It's amazing how one additional lane has alleviated traffic congestion in the Wailua Bridge area. We're also happy that the view corridor was maintained so as you drive through the area, you can still see the ocean. The walk path attached to the new bridge is also a very nice way to see that area of our coastline."

A Project for the People

In February, Nan, Inc. announced its new contract with the County of Hawaii. The $3.24 million agreement involves the construction of an additional mile of Ane Keohokalole Highway. According to the Office of the Mayor, this will be a road parallel and about a mile mauka of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina-Lani Street in Kaloko. The entire two and a half miles of highway is scheduled to open at the same time in May.

"Public Works has done an incredible job at keeping this project on time and under budget," says Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. "Because of this, we are in position to build another mile of road."

The Office of the Mayor says the additional mile of highway will consist of two lanes with a concrete surface and enough space to expand to four lanes. There also will be some resurfacing work at Hina-Lani Street as well as added left-turn pockets. This expanded highway will open at the best possible time. The state's upcoming Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project between Honokohau Harbor and Kona International Airport will no doubt cause traffic delays, and a completed Ane Keohokalole Highway will give motorists an alternative route when traffic is heavy.

The Office of the Mayor adds: "It is also good news for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, shopping and play. County Mass Transit has committed to establish a transit bus loop using Ane Keohokalole Highway and the Queen Kaahumanu Highway."

Ground was broken on the first phase of the $29.9 million Ane Keohokalole Highway project on March 30, 2010, and was originally planned as a mile and a half of highway from Palani Road to the West Hawaii Civic Center. The project represents not only the largest expenditure of federal stimulus money in Hawaii, it also is one of the first major roads to be built by Hawaii County in Kona since statehood.

The project, awarded to Nan Inc. of Honolulu, also involves two preservation efforts at each end of the road. An interpretive center and cultural preservation area valued at more than $3 million is being built by Queen Liliuokalani Trust at the Palani Road end of the project, while a $500,000 partnership between the county, Stanford Carr Development and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve one of Hawaii's last remaining dry land forests is under way at the Hina-Lani Street intersection. Ane Keohokalole Highway also will facilitate development of the Kamakana Village affordable housing project, commercial development by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust to support children's programs, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Land's expansion of Laiopua Village and its planned community center.

"We are not just building a road," says Kenoi. "With affordable homes, shelters for the homeless, places to work and play, a way to get to college, commuter buses and bike paths, we are facilitating the creation of a safe and vibrant community."

Ryan Nakaima, vice president of Nan, Inc. and a LEED AP (accredited professional), says, "The Ane Keohokalole Highway is a very meaningful project for Nan, Inc. as it allows us to be a part of the significant expansion of Kailua-Kona, which will pave the way for future development projects under a master community plan."

Nan, Inc. is grateful for all the road projects that comes its way, says Nakaima. "With the expansion of Nan, Inc.'s civil division, road and infrastructure projects are an important source of work for the company," he says.

Honolulu Rail Ramping Up

In February, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and Honolulu City Council Chair Ernest Y. Martin praised President Barack Obama for including $250 million for the Honolulu project in his FY2013 budget.

HART said: "Reaction to President Obama's budget request was announced by U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Hawaii's congressional delegation, who said that the budget request, which would come from the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) New Starts program, was the largest amount for any rail project in the country for FY2013."

Toru Hamayasu, interim executive director and CEO of the HART, says: "We are pleased to see that President Obama's budget includes a substantial request for Oahu's rail project and we are grateful to Sen. Inouye and Hawaii's congressional delegation for their strong support. This major budget request reflects the FTA's continued confidence that Oahu's rail project is one of the best transit projects in the nation and the fact that the project has been done by the book. It also indicates that we are near the end of the process towards obtaining the federal agreement for $1.55 billion in federal money later this year."

HART Board Chairwoman Carrie Okinaga said, "The latest budget request from the Obama administration verifies that the FTA continues to support this project. Our costs are under budget and our revenues are on track. We are on the right path toward securing our federal funding and HART will continue to work collaboratively with the FTA and other stakeholders to achieve that goal."

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernest Y. Martin said: "The inclusion of $250 million in President Obama's budget and the issuance of the Letter of No Prejudice on Feb. 6 are proof that support for Honolulu's rail project is solid in Washington. The fact that Hawaii leads the list of programs awaiting a full funding grant agreement is a demonstration of the effectiveness of Hawaii's congressional delegation."

HART adds, "The funding request is the latest federal show of support. The FTA recently granted the Honolulu rail project approval to begin construction of the foundation and pillars for the elevated guideway. That latest federal approval clears the way for additional construction on the first half of the elevated guideway from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, as well as work on the project's Maintenance and Storage Facility and three of the project's stations in Waipahu."

Rail planners say the 20-mile rail transit system from East Kapolei to Ala Moana is expected to open by 2019. top of page
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