KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - KAILUA (Hawaii News Now) - The state is defending a nearly $6 million Kailua repaving project that's being criticized by residents who said there's another spot nearby that should be fixed first.
The state Department of Transportation is resurfacing about seven miles of Mokapu Boulevard in Kailua from Kapaa Quarry Road to North Kalaheo Avenue.
The $5.7-million project includes installation of concrete bus pads and curb ramps. The federal government will cover 80 percent of the cost, with the state picking up the remaining 20 percent of the project.
But some people who live along Mokapu Boulevard said it's a waste of money.
"This pavement condition, in my view, both personal and professional, was in very good to excellent condition," said Jim Turse, who has lived in a home there since 2008. "I just don't think that's a wise way to spend our money."
"This is a total waste of money!" yelled another woman from her car as she saw a Hawaii News Now crew shooting video along the roadway.
The state DOT last re paved Mokapu Boulevard in 2008, but the department said that was only replacing asphalt about two inches deep. This time it's a much more comprehensive rebuilding of the pavement, according to Caroline Sluyter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
She pointed to what's called "alligator cracking" in a couple of the turn lanes on Mokapu.
"That is indicative of a bigger problem that's happening underneath. So before when we came in and did the quick fix, the patching, it does look pretty good on the surface, but underneath, it's actually not in good condition at all," Sluyter said.
Turse is the former housing director for the city of Honolulu and one-time facilities director at Camp Pendleton in California, one of the largest military bases in the country. He was also a town manager in Derry and Salem, New Hampshire.
He said the cracking is confined to turn lanes, which typically get more wear and tear, but most of the roadway is in good condition.
"It's like, 'Did you ever come out here and take a look at the project areas?'" Turse said. "Cause even the engineers, when I spoke to them on site, before they began work here, said, 'Yeah, kind of looks like to us, we ought to be going the other way.'"
Turse and some of his neighbors said the money would be better spent just a few blocks away, mauka of Kalaheo High School on the Mokapu Saddle Road, which is pock-marked with potholes, cracks and patches.
"The condition is awful. It's so bad going up the turn lane to get on the H3 that most of us who use that area regularly avoid that lane altogether," Turse said.
Sluyter responded: "Over there, there's some older issues with concrete underneath the asphalt and some issues with heavier trucks going in that area, so they have a different design that they'd need to do in that section, that's why we can't get to it right now."
The DOT is designing improvements to that portion of the road now but there is no timetable for when they will happen.
The Mokapu project is also adding irrigation to a small portion of the median, near the Oneawa Street entrance to Kailua, where native Palms will be planted, Sluyter said.