Highway Resurfacing and Airfield Updates
It may finally happen. Resurfacing of the roadway from the end of the H2 Freeway to Weed Junction in Haleiwa is set to begin in July. The horrendous potholes on Wilikina Drive near Schofield Barracks will finally become just a bad memory rather than a bone jarring experience.
This long overdue project was scheduled to be completed last year, but it got tied up in contract bid challenges. Hawaii procurement laws are complicated, particularly when three competing bidders challenge a contract awarded to another company.
Wilikina Dr, Kamananui Rd, and Kamehameha Hwy from Wahiawa to Weed Junction should be as good as new in the near future. A resurfacing project on Kamehameha Hwy from Waimea to Waialee is scheduled to go out for bid by the end of this year. Let’s hope that job does not get tied up in challenges and red tape.
We continue to make progress on resolving the Department of Transportation – Airports Division (DOT-A) concerns regarding Kawaihapai Airfield (aka Dillingham). The two most critical issues are securing a long-term lease between the Army and DOT-A, and how to move forward with a water system that neither the Army nor DOT-A wants to manage.
The lease negotiations appear to be going well. An important change this time is the understanding and commitment that maintenance of the water system will no longer be a requirement of the lease.
The water issues are complicated. The water well is on Army property and both the Army and DOT-A are equally responsible for its operations, even if neither has a mission to be a water company to outside parties. The airfield, Mokuleia Beach Park, several private residences, Camp Erdman, the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, and an agricultural operation all depend on this system. The old water system has at least one major leak and the current usage far exceeds the permitted draw. The water system cannot be turned off and the leaks must be fixed, no matter what happens to the aviation activity.
Creation of a new water utility or cooperative is likely and all of the users have an interest in making it financially stable going forward. The small number of users does not, however, have the millions of dollars needed to repair the system. We are investigating how best to fund the repairs and then turn over a functioning system to a new operator. A mix of Federal, State and County funds might be achievable because of the diverse entities who need the water.
DOT-A recently extended its termination deadline for airfield tenants until December 31st.We believe a more appropriate deadline is July 5, 2024, the date when the current lease is set to expire. The water issues will not be resolved by the end of this year and DOT-A will not have been able to meet its obligations to leave. We will either have the issues resolved or we will not by 2024.In the meantime, the tenants should not have to worry about eviction. We will save the airfield; it has to be done.