Thursday, June 14, 2001

Residents fear loss
of Maui bridge's beauty

By B.J. Reyes

Road repairs are taking away from the beauty of one of the Hana Highway's most significant bridges on Maui, say residents angered at the state's perceived disregard for the historic value of the road.

The repairs are being done to shore up a section of the highway that has eroded near the Waikani Bridge.

Members of the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission said they had hoped the Department of Transportation would consult them before doing repairs to the road and its bridges, which earlier this year were added to the State Register of Historical Places. The commission was not consulted, and its members have asked the DOT for an explanation.

"The design that they used to repair it doesn't fall into the historic guidelines," said Jo-Ann Carreira, a member of the commission.

According to a report submitted last week at the monthly meeting of the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission, the work by the DOT includes a new concrete roadbed with huge curbs topped by a large concrete end post abutting an old lava rock wall next to the bridge.

"It looks like one of those freeway overpasses in Honolulu," Carreira said. "The concern is that if they're going to start repairing pieces of the road as it falls, they should at least try to give it the same appearance."

DOT spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said no consultation was required because the roadwork was considered a safety emergency.

"We are exempted from the permitting process in an emergency repair," Kali said in an e-mail message. "The idea is to repair the road and get it back into operation as quickly as possible.

"We agree that the final result could be more appealing aesthetically."

Kali said the DOT is looking into ways to make the repairs less obtrusive and added that the agency will consult with the community before any future improvements.

The Hana bridges are among the earliest examples of reinforced-concrete bridge construction in the state, according to a survey by Spencer Mason Architects.

The only continuous concrete arch deck bridge on Maui, the Waikani Bridge was described as "one of the most dramatic and aesthetically distinguished bridges in the state."

In 1999 the highway was named one of America's 50 Millennium Legacy Trails after being submitted for the honor by Gov. Ben Cayetano. The road also is a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places.

Commission members agree that safety along the historic road is a concern, but they would like to see repairs done in a more sensitive manner.

"We've got an issue of safety, and we're trying to work into maintaining the historic integrity of the road," commission Chairman James "Kimo" Falconer said. "It'll be safe, but I think there are better ways to do it." online video: The Road to Hana

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