The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have announced the opening of the final phase of reconstruction on the east side of Saddle Road, now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
The improvement connects the existing highway near milepost 11 to the west end of the Puainako Street extension. The Saddle Road East Side project encompassed a total of nearly six miles of highway, reconstructing approximately three miles of the existing Daniel K. Inouye Highway, upgrading the roadway to modern design standards and including safety features such as 8-ft shoulder lanes, straighter alignment and a climbing lane, and adding three miles of new road. 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. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway S.R. 200 begins at the outskirts of Hilo near milepost 6 and extends westward to Mamalahoa Highway S.R. 190. The road passes through the saddle between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes.
This joint project between HDOT and FHWA presented unique challenges such as varying subsurface conditions from dense basalt and volcanic ash. Funding for the Saddle Road projects was made possible through the U.S. Department of the Army Defense Access Road and Ecosystem Management Programs, U.S. Congress, and HDOT.
Previous phases of the Saddle Road Improvements widened and aligned more than 41 miles of road. The east side phase opened this week 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 U.S. Army contributed more than $100 million. Saddle Road was initially built as a one-lane road by the U.S. Army in 1942 to connect military training facilities.
News & image source: Big Island Now