Engineer Survey: No Significant Traffic Impact

Hu Honua Files Traffic Study with State; Sets Up Road Fund

HILO, HI—March 10, 2011—Traffic in the Pepeekeo area of the Hamakua Coast will not be adversely impacted by the proposed Hu Honua Bioenergy facility, according to a study submitted to the state Department of Transportation.

The traffic survey, conducted by SSFM International, Inc., concludes that the additional traffic and delivery trucks anticipated as part of the Hu Honua operations won’t affect the intersection of Route 19  and Sugar Mill Road.  According to the survey, “the intersection is expected to continue to operate at acceptable conditions.”

The engineering firm submitted the report last week; it assessed the traffic at the intersection along the Belt Highway, about 10 miles north of Hilo. Using current traffic counts along with state and county growth data, SSFM evaluated the future impact of traffic in the area with and without the power plant, and found no significant difference.  The study also found there is sufficient sight distance and turning radius at the intersection to accommodate the trucks that will deliver the biomass to the facility.

SSFM has offices in Honolulu and throughout the Pacific Basin.

Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC is converting the former Hilo Coast Power Company plant into a modern biomass energy facility. After sugar operations ceased, the plant operated for some years as a coal-fired power plant.  Hu Honua will use only biomass.

Hu Honua will participate in the cost of maintenance of Sugar Mill Road, a private road that services not only the facility but also neighboring residences.  Hu Honua leadership is determining its proper level of contributions to the road maintenance fund, and what entity is entitled to collect those funds.

“In the meantime, at the suggestion of Sen. Malama Solomon, we’ve set up an escrow account to hold what we believe is a more than adequate amount to cover our portion of road maintenance,” said Rick McQuain, president of Hu Honua.

From the outset, Hu Honua has committed to doing its part to maintain Sugar Mill Road, once it is clearly established which entities should properly collect the fees and how much they are.

“We intend to be good neighbors and do our part.  Our understanding is that the transfer of deed for at least part of the road is pending or has just been made to Orchards Association. Once that is clearly established, we will work with Orchards to determine what Hu Honua’s contribution is,” McQuain added.

Hu Honua’s goal is to have the biomass facility in full operation by the latter part of 2012.  It is currently working on securing a final air permit from the state Department of Health, and a Special Management Area (SMA) use permit from the County of Hawaii.  The draft air permit is about halfway through a 30-day public comment period.

“Hu Honua meets or exceeds the stringent requirements of the draft air permit”, McQuain said.  The facility also meets the recently released U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards.

The SMA application seeks to amend the existing permit for the old operation, which was coal-based, to the new biomass facility.   This proposed amendment was subject to a contested case that was recently closed; the hearing officer’s report is pending.

Hu Honua is committed to meeting high environmental standards in the operation of the facility, which will employ about 30 people when operational.  About another 120 indirect jobs will be in the timber industry and other support for the operation. During construction, 100 workers are expected to be employed.

A copy of the traffic survey can be found here — HuHonuaTrafficReport.

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