Paia bypass road opens
PAIA, Maui » The one-lane, one-way Paia Mini Bypass opened yesterday, in an attempt to relieve afternoon rush-hour traffic into East Maui.
"It's a Band-Aid fix," said Eileen Rockwell, a Paia merchant and an officer of the Paia Merchants Association.
"I don't know how much it will help. Time will tell."
The private road, which took out about five acres of sugar cane land from Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., will be open for public use from 3 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays. Supporters hope it relieves traffic on Hana Highway that often backs up about two miles west of Paia Town during afternoon rush hour on weekdays.
State officials said the bypass will quicken traffic by allowing some drivers an alternative route to Makawao, Haliimaile and Upper Paia.
The bypass goes mauka from Hana Highway before the county municipal parking lot and extends for about a third of a mile to Baldwin Avenue above the federal post office in Paia.
Commercial vehicles will not be allowed to use it.
The $675,000 project was a joint effort involving Maui County, the state and Hawaiian Commercial's sister firm, A&B Properties Inc.
State Transportation Director Rodney Haraga said the small bypass is a partial solution and that his department is talking with consultants about preparing an environmental impact statement for a proposed Paia bypass route.
He said based on the national average, the development of the environmental impact statement could take 63 months and construction two to three years after its design.
Haraga said the department has not decided on a preferred route for the Paia bypass because it is awaiting the evaluation of various alternative routes developed through the environmental impact statement.
Haraga said his department will be counting the number of vehicles using the road to determine the degree of its use.
He said the hours of its use could be extended if warranted.