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State funds to be used to demolish old airport cargo

A stalled project to demolish the former cargo ramp at Hilo International Airport is back on track after the release of $4.5 million in capital improvement funds in mid-April by Gov. David Ige.

The money will be used to demolish existing buildings to make way for 11 one-acre leasehold lots in the so-called “west ramp” in the Old Airport area.

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“I’m thrilled that Gov. Ige is following through on funding projects for Hilo International Airport,” Sen. Lorraine Inouye, a Democrat whose district encompasses part of Hilo, plus Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa and Kona. “Financing construction costs for the west ramp demolition and lease lots will greatly improve Hilo International Airport as it continues with its renovations.

“The Hilo International Airport is a vital economic hub for the city of Hilo and the outlying areas of Hamakua, Puna and Ka‘u.”

The site is the former location of the airport’s cargo ramp and was formerly the location for Federal Express, Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Airlines Cargo, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Jai Cunningham.

Prior to its use for cargo operations and general aviation, the west ramp was used for passenger operations until the mid-1970s.

“The project is already under construction, but has encountered contaminated materials which has delayed the project from being completed,” Cunningham said. “The $4.5 million is to temporarily cap the contaminated material and pay for contractor’s extended overhead.

“A separate project will remove the contaminated material and complete the subdivision of the lots.”

The lots will be leased to private concerns for aviation-related activities, according to Cunningham. He was unable to provide projected income information, but added there is a waiting list for potential lessees, “so interest is high.”

In addition, the construction includes removal of the existing waterline and service laterals, which will be replaced with newer structures. The existing airport operational area fence also will be removed to make way for a new fence with gate.

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The project was previously scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2021. Completion is now slated for June, with a total estimated cost of $10.628 million.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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