Feds picking up the tab for road resurfacing project on Oahu

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A road repaving project in Kalihi is about to become a first of its kind for the state and could change the way Hawaii’s roads are fixed.

Middle Street from Kamehameha Highway to King Street is heavily used, serving as a gateway to the City Bus yard. The state wants to repave it using concrete instead of asphalt to make it more durable.

Asphalt roads last 10 to 12 years while concrete can last up to 50 years. So, drivers and bus riders say bring it on.

“It’s all for the greater good right? We got the rail stuff coming up, so we’re gonna need this access road and if it’s gonna improve this roadway might as well,” bus rider Tim Marquez said.

In the past, as with freeway repaving projects, the concrete is poured at the site then left to dry before reopening the road.

Instead, the state will use pre-cast concrete slabs that will be hoisted on to the road, eliminating the waiting time to dry.

“In this case, the slabs of concrete will be made and they’ll prepare the roadway and the full pieces, large pieces of concrete will be lowered into place,” state Department of Transportation spokesperson Caroline Sluyter said.

There will still be some lane closures because crews will have to dig out the old layer and get the new surface ready, but Sluyter says these types of projects will be quicker to finish and easier to repair.

“What we can do is take out the complete slab and just replace it with a new slab instead of having to break up the concrete like we normally would, so even in the future it will save time for repairs,” Sluyter said.

Time is money and this project is saving the state some of that, too.

The projected cost is $15 million and usually the state pays 20 percent of that, or $3 million. However, the state received a national grant because it’s recognized as an innovative highway project, so the federal government is paying for all of it.

Sluyter says this new method does not cost any more than the traditional method. If all goes well, more repaving projects will be done this way.

The state plans to put the project out to bid at the end of the year and the repaving should start in the spring of next year.

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