WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Transportation's plans for Phase 1 of the long-awaited Leeward Bikeway calls for the five-mile path to run along the old railroad route to the Hawaiian Railway Society in Kapolei.
It will cost $8.5 million to build.
"The bid is ready to go. We think that they'll go out to bid early 2018 and then start building it in 2018," said Chad Taniguchi, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.
Bicycle enthusiasts are happy, but they also want the second phase built from Kapolei to Nanakuli.
For that HDOT said it can only afford to adjust striping on existing roads including busy Farrington Highway.
Waianae Sen. Maile Shimabukuro said her constituents worry about the safety of cyclists who would have to ride alongside traffic.
"That's a very tight stretch of road. In many parts of it there's only those four lanes. There's really not much shoulder on either side. It's already congested," she said.
"Sixty percent of the people who bike want something where they know it's going to be safe," Taniguchi said. "For that you need an off-road multi-use path."
The state estimates that would cost about $13 million -- money it doesn't have.
HDOT public information officer Tim Sakahara said the bikeway was broken into two phases for "funding purposes."
"Due to funding limitations, HDOT is adjusting this concept to improve access within current facilities," he said.
Sakahara said the re-striped roads would include "minimum five-foot mixed use shoulders" and Phase 2 could be moved up if funding outside the Highway Revenue Fund is provided.
The Leeward Bikeway has been on the state's to-do list since 1980. It was required by the federal government when it transferred the deed for the rail corridor to the state.
The Hawaii Bicycling League often rides the route Phase 1 will follow.
"A lot of it is already off-road rideable, gravel or dirt. We're hoping to see a proper paved path similar to the existing Pearl Harbor bike path," HBL events director Travis Counsell said.
Sakahara said Phase 1 will improve bicycle and pedestrian access.
When it's finished the path will be multi-use for bike riders, walkers, joggers and skate boarders.
"It's going to be tremendously well used," Taniguchi said.