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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 11, 2010

$13.3M plan for paved trails along Hilo coastline detailed

Advertiser Staff

Hawai'i County's $13.3 million plan for a series of paved trails for bicyclists and pedestrians along Hilo's coastline is moving into the land-use stage of development, the Hawai'i Tribune-Herald reported.

"The Hilo Bayfront Trails Project would provide a variety of multimodal paths, pedestrian sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes and shared roads for bicycles spanning the approximately two-mile distance between Hilo Harbor and the Wailuku River in downtown Hilo," according to a draft environmental assessment of the project's impacts.

The draft EA was posted in Friday's edition of the state's Environmental Notice, triggering a 30-day period for public comments to be sent to the county's Department of Research and Development, which is spearheading the project.

It finds that Hilo "currently lacks a cohesive system of walkways" linking the harbor and its arriving cruise ship passengers with Banyan Drive, the beach area and Wailoa Park.

Six miles of "shared-use" trails, including an alignment from the Mo'oheau Bus -Terminal to the future cruise ship passenger gate at Hilo Harbor, four miles of bicycle lanes and four miles of bicycle routes are planned.

"Some segments of the shared-use paths are dependent on the purchase of privately owned parcels and may require later implementation," the document states.

Bicycle racks, water fountains, more parking, trail markings and interpretive signs for 30 "significant" cultural and natural sights also are part of the trails project.

The draft EA eliminates adding bridges across both Reed's Bay and Mohouli Pond and a crosswalk, while rerouting the trail to save money. All were part of a master plan, which took a year to create, that would have cost $19 million or $5.7 million more than the EA estimate.

"The County of Hawaii, which is responsible for obtaining funds for trail implementation, is researching capital improvement project funding, grants, fundraising and federal monies; not all funding is intended to come from local taxpayers," the document adds.

After completing the EA, the county will then need a special management area or SMA permit required to build near the shoreline.

The complete master plan for the bayfront trails project may be viewed at: www.hcrc.info/community-planning/hilo/bayfront-trails.