A Widened Moana: Relief For Motorists and Businesses

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Connecting South Virginia to the north-south freeway and crossing Kietzke Lane, the short span of Moana Lane has long been one of the most congested roadways in the valley.

Regional Transportation Commission engineers say it was simply a problem of too many cars and not enough roadway.

So, after some debate and no small amount of concern they embarked on a project to widen it to six lanes of traffic.

The extra room had to come from somewhere so, it was decided to carve most of the new right of way from the south side of the street. That meant some businesses had to go and that process took time.

"Those are always the most challenging issues in a project," says RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson, "because you're dealing with people's business, people's lives."

But those that stayed faced a challenges of their own.

"People didn't even want to come into the area, says Dee McClain, owner of "D" Lamp Doctor. "They'd call and say 'is this where the terrible construction is?"

The actual construction moved quickly finishing six weeks ahead of schedule.

And Friday it was finished. The remaining orange cones were there simply for the opening which was accomplished with appropriate ceremony.

Everyone was wearing Hawaiian leis, a nod to the origin of the street's name, adopted more than a century ago by the man who owned the hot springs spa to which it led.

The event was topped off by a high school honor guard and a brief parade of vehicles whose vintages spanned the history of the roadway itself.

Everyone involved and affected walked away with some satisfaction.

"This project put a lot of dollars back into the local economy," says Norm Dianda, whose Q and D Construction Company did the work, and as you can see we've built a street that will probably be here for the next 50 to 70 years."

"It's a great day,not only for transportation, but for the economy, " added Gibson..

McClain just said she was relieved. "I'm taking a breath and New Year's is on the way and I can't wait until this year is over."

Almost. The street is open. The interchange at I-580 up the street is still a couple of weeks away.