Officials look into safety measures for hairpin turn
WAILUKU » Maui County highways officials have ordered the re-striping of pavement at a hairpin turn where six teenagers in a pickup truck went over an embankment and down 140 feet into a gulch in Haiku.
County Public Works Director Milton Arakawa said his department is also looking at installing more signs telling drivers to slow down to the posted 10 mph and at extending the guardrail at the bottom of the hairpin turn.
County engineers are also recommending the installation of a street light on an existing utility pole near the turn at Kaupakalua Road near Lepo Street.
The recommendation is being sent to the county Street Lighting Committee for review.
"We're looking at what we can do to enhance the safety of that turn," Arakawa said yesterday.
The action follows an accident involving six teenage girls from King Kekaulike High School who were injured when their pickup went over the embankment about 9:45 p.m. Oct. 8.
Neighbors said the two-lane turn has been the scene of numerous accidents but that the one involving the girls was the first time a vehicle had gone into the gulch. One girl, a 14-year-old, was seriously injured but is recovering at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
"She's doing better than ever," said her friend Apalo Kemfort, who was riding in a separate vehicle.
Kemfort said he felt installing a street light was important to warn motorists of the turn but acknowledged that the teen driver had said she had been having brake problems.
Maui Councilman Michael Molina, who met with public works officials at the hairpin turn to discuss potential road improvements last week, said he was happy with the steps being taken to increase safety measures.
Molina said he does not know how much of a factor the improvements would have played in preventing the accident, since he has heard that the truck's brakes were not working properly and there were no skid marks indicating the brakes were applied to try to stop the vehicle.
He said he knows speeding does occur in the area and that all drivers need to slow down when approaching the hairpin turn.