Hawaii DOT Celebrates Highway Opening with Renaming and Dedication Ceremony

AASHTO Journal, 13 September 2013

The Hawaii Department of Transportation last week opened a new nine-mile section of Saddle Road, a vital highway linking communities in East and West Hawaii. With the roadway extension came a name change, as state officials were on hand to christen the roadway as the “Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” named after the late senator on what would have been his 89th birthday. Inouye passed away last December.

“During his lifetime, Senator Inouye made incredible contributions to this country and the state of Hawaii,” said HDOT Director Glenn Okimoto in a statement. “We are honored and pleased that this vital connector for Hawaii Island will carry his name.”

The original one-lane roadway was built in 1942 for access to military training facilities located in the “saddle” between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The nine miles opened last week marks the completion of 41 miles constructed since the project to expand and upgrade the highway began in 2004.

Sen. Inouye was an early supporter of the Saddle Road project, according to HDOT, convening stakeholders to create the Saddle Road Task Force.

“We have come this far due to the vision Senator Inouye shared with the project’s many partners,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “Once one of the most precarious highways in the state, the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Highway is now a safer and more efficient travel route connecting East and West Hawaii communities.”

HDOT says about $290 million has been awarded for construction of the highway since 2004 from “federal, state, Department of Army, and other sources.” One remaining portion of the project remains, which will be completed “as funds become available.”

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