U.S. DOT awards $23.46 million for improvements to Port of Kawaihae

Posted on Nov 2, 2023 in Main, News

HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration has awarded a $23.46 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant to the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) for improvements to the Port of Kawaihae that will enhance operational efficiency and help reduce highway traffic congestion.

“We appreciate the support of the Biden Administration, U.S. DOT, and our congressional delegation to channel Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to priority projects in Hawai‘i,” said Hawai‘i Director of Transportation Ed Sniffen. “This multimodal project helps us meet many of our goals such as improving quality of life and local food security.”

The grant will be used to widen Kawaihae Road to accommodate a left turn lane into the main port gate, concrete paving on 10 acres over asphalted portions in the cargo yard, new 80-foot mast lighting to replace lower lighting equipment, installation of conduit and raised transformer pads for expanded electrical power plugs for refrigerated containers, and the relocation of the port office building and maintenance shed. The highway improvements will address community concerns by reducing traffic congestion caused by truck queues and the added turn lane will allow drivers who are not headed for the harbor, to bypass the congestion. The interior improvements will enhance operational efficiency and safety to ensure goods move off the piers and to their final destinations as quickly as possible.

This grant award covers 70% of the total project cost of $33.9 million, and HDOT will fund the balance of the project cost with revenues generated from harbor user fees. HDOT anticipates advertising the Kawaihae Harbor Improvements project in 2025 pending completion of the environmental process. Once the contract is awarded, construction of the project is estimated to take two years to complete.

“Without the support of these federal grant funds, we likely would not be able to complete this much-needed project for another decade,” said Dre Kalili, HDOT Deputy Director for Harbors. “The inclusion of federal resources in our projects means our commercial harbor system will remain a reliable lifeline for our state’s economy.”