By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim is asking the Hawaii County Council to appropriate $2.2 million more in bond money for the increased county share of the Puainako Street extension in Hilo.
The councils Finance Committee is expected to take up the request next month.
The federal government is responsible for 80 percent of the cost of the project, with the county picking up the remaining 20 percent. Goodfellow Brothers' low bid of $22.3 million required additional financing by both the county and federal government.
The federal government will put up an extra $9.5 million for the work.
The project, discussed for nearly four decades, will connect the Kaumana neighborhood with the Waiakea and Panaewa sections of Hilo by creating a new 4.5-mile roadway running mauka from Komohana Street.
Some proponents of the project had feared the new mayor might balk at the additional appropriation. But Kim said yesterday the need for the project is obvious, if only for safety reasons.
He added that the 80 percent federal help was important, as is helping the islands struggling construction industry.
"We cannot allow this opportunity to escape us," he said, adding he supported the project when he was administrator of Civil Defense.
The state Highways Division and the Federal Highway Administration must give final approval before the bid can be formally awarded. Work is expected to take more than 18 months.
A second stage of the project calls for a four-lane route from Komohana Street makai to Kanoelehua Avenue. That will cost an estimated $40 million and involve the condemnation of homes along the route to allow for the expansion.
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