Kahekili Highway was built in 1966 by the City & County of Honolulu. It is currently owned and operated by the Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation. Although it was originally constructed as a two-lane roadway, a 120-foot wide right of way was acquired in anticipation of a wider highway.
The Kahekili Highway Improvements Project was included in Oahu Metropolitan Transportation Organization (OahuMPO) Long Range Plans as early as 1984. The Hali 2000 plan in 1984 included an interchange at the intersection of Kahekili and Likelike Highways as well as the widening of Kahekili Highway to six lanes from Likelike Highway to Ha’ikū Road and to four lanes from Ha’ikū Road to Kamehameha Highway.
The original Kahekili Highway Widening and Interchange project selected a preferred alternative based on studies and community input done up to 1990. An Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 1990, and a record of decision (ROD) was issued by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA). The primary purposes for the 1990 Kahekili Highway Improvements Project were to provide congestion relief and connection to the regional transportation network. It is important to note that H-3 was not completed at the time the EIS was finalized.
At that time, the preferred alternative included three separate tasks: 1) to build a grade separated interchange at the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Likelike Highway; 2) to construct a Castle Hills connector road to Keaahala Road, now known as Pookela Street; and 3) to widen Kahekili Highway from Likelike Highway to Kamehameha Highway.
Only a portion of the original 1990 project was built. The connector road to Keaahala Road was constructed and is now known as Pookela Street. The entrance from the Castle Hills Subdivision to Likelike Highway was eliminated at the same time. The grade separated interchange at the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Likelike Highway was never built, and there is a signalized at grade intersection there today. Kahekili Highway was widened only from Likelike Highway to Ha‘ikū Road, going from six lanes at the interchange down to four lanes at Ha‘ikū Road. The section of Kahekili Highway from Ha‘ikū Road to Kamehameha Highway remains at two lanes.
Regional transportation plans produced subsequent to the 1990 Final EIS still reflect the need for Kahekili Highway improvements. The same improvements noted above were also included in the Oahu Regional Transportation Plan (Hali 2005), produced in 1991. The project has continued to be included in each of the OahuMPO long range plans, which are now updated roughly every five years, the most recent being the Oahu Regional Transportation Plan (ORTP) 2035 in April, 2011.