The latest segment of the new Saddle Road opened this last weekend. From mile post 42 all the way to Mamalahoa Highway we have an all new highway to drive. The road follows a new route, straight for the coast instead of climbing up and over the ridge at Waiki’i. As a result Saddle Road comes out at a new intersection three miles south of the Waikoloa intersection. The old road remains, now demoted to a ranch access road, no longer labeled Highway 200 at the intersection.
I finally got a chance to drive the new section late in the week while commuting to and from the summit of Mauna Kea. My reaction to the new section? It is smooth, fast and boring.
There are no blind curves. There are no one-way yields over narrow bridges! No more roller coaster, no slamming the curves at Kilohana. There is even a passing lane all the way up the steep grades. No more thrills and scares while passing the water trucks in no-passing zones. It is just boring!
And much safer I suppose.
What was the Saddle Road of infamy is now the best highway on the island. You can still travel the old segment if you do want a taste of the old Saddle, but most traffic is using the new road. Word from our management is that Keck vehicles are to drive the new road. It is a few miles longer when traveling from Waimea, taking about the same time considering the higher speed limits. For those traveling from Kona or Waikoloa it is substantially shorter.
Boring and safer? I will just have to deal with safer.