Final phase of Big Island’s DKI Highway opens

| October 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Group photo from the dedication of the final phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway improvements. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Department of Transportation)

Saddle Road upgrades critical PTA access for military and civilians

Hawaii Department of Transportation
News Release

HILO — The final phase of reconstruction on the east side of Saddle Road, now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, opened Saturday following a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The improvement connects the existing highway near milepost 11 to the west end of the Puainako Street extension on Hawaii Island.
Funding for the Saddle Road projects was made possible through the Department of the Army’s Defense Access Road, and Ecosystem Management programs, U.S. Congress, and the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Photo of the new Daniel K. Inouye Highway. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Department of Transportation)

“Essential”
Saddle Road was initially built as a one-lane road by the Army in 1942, to connect military training facilities.

“Saddle Road is essential to safely move personnel and equipment to and from Kawaihae Harbor on the Kona side and from the Reserve Center on the Hilo side from Pohakuloa Training Center,” stressed Lt. Col. Christopher Marquez, commander, PTA, in formal ceremony remarks.

“From a readiness perspective, PTA is uniquely essential for maintaining our forces in the Pacific,” he added. “This is the only location where units can train and rehearse their entire list of deployment requirements for a worldwide response.”

Late senator recognized
“The importance of the combined Saddle Road Improvement projects as a cross-island route cannot be overstated. It is a huge accomplishment,” said Gov. David Ige. “Sen. (Daniel) Inouye’s vision when he initiated the Saddle Road Community Task Force in 1993 is an excellent example of government and the community working together to benefit generations to come.”

The Saddle Road East Side project encompassed a total of nearly 6 miles of highway, reconstructing approximately 3 miles of the existing Daniel K. Inouye Highway, upgrading the roadway to modern design standards and including safety features such as 8-foot shoulder lanes, straighter alignment and a climbing lane, and adding 3 miles of new road.

Welcome PTA asset
The project also increased the overall highway capacity and removed potential conflicts between military operations and public traffic. The cost was $57 million, which was within the allocated budget.

“Safety is crucial on this highway,” Marquez said. “This new section is an enormous leap forward for public safety and military safety alike. This includes the more than 200 civilian professionals who work at the Pohakuloa Training Area who must commute hundreds of miles every week on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from their homes in communities around the island.”

Graphic showing the Saddle Road/Daniel K. Inouye Highway improvement phases. (Graphic courtesy of Hawaii Department of Transportation)

Challenges
This joint project between HDOT and Federal Highway Administration presented unique challenges such as varying subsurface conditions from a‘a, pahoehoe, dense basalt and volcanic ash, and the need to address precautionary measures necessary for containment, treatment and placement of cleared timber to help prevent the spread of the Rapid Ohia Death fungus.

“The completion of the Saddle Road East Side project provides a safe, efficient, cross-island route with access across Hawaii between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa,” said the FHWA’s Central Federal Lands project manager, Mike Will. “In addition, the use of the Pohakuloa Training Area quarry resources is estimated to have saved approximately $20 million of state and federal funding.”
Previous phases of the Saddle Road Improvements widened and aligned more than 41 miles of road. The east side phase opened Saturday makes for a total of nearly 48 miles of road that has been improved to modern standards at a total approximate cost of $316.5 million, of which the Army contributed more than $100 million.

Big Island crossing
The Daniel K. Inouye Highway, State Route 200, begins at the outskirts of Hilo near milepost 6 and extends westward to Mamalahoa Highway State Route 190. The road passes through the saddle between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway climbs nearly 5,500 vertical feet from its eastern terminus to its mid-point. The rainfall gradient along the highway ranges from 10 inches to 200 inches per year, which posed an additional challenge for crews during construction.

(Note: PTA Public Affairs Office provided additional content for this article.)

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Category: News, U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa (USAG-Pohakuloa)

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