Saturday, November 3, 2001

Plan offers ideas to
ease Maui traffic

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> State officials have proposed a short-term transportation plan for Maui that includes a study into the use of a cane haul road to move traffic through Lahaina.

The plan, which includes ideas from state and county citizen advisory committees, is expected to be reviewed by state lawmakers during the 2002 legislative session.

Officials say the final draft of "Joint State/County Maui Interim Transportation Plan" proposes ways to lessen traffic congestion while long-term solutions are pursued for Valley Isle regions.

As the fastest-growing island in the state, with the population growing by 28.8 percent in 10 years to 125,000 residents, Maui has experienced increased traffic congestion.

State officials say that while long-term solutions are being developed for many regions, some action might be taken more immediately to ease the problem.

In West Maui, state officials want to look at using the cane haul road as an "interim roadway" between Lahainaluna Road and the Lahaina Business Park, as planning continues on the Lahaina Bypass Highway from Puamana to Honokowai. The cane haul road would connect at Kahua Street leading to Lahainaluna Road.

The plan also supports widening Honoapiilani Highway from two to four lanes between Dickenson Street and the south entrance of Front Street, and also building the first phase of the Lahaina Bypass between Kupunakea Street and Lahainaluna Road.

The county would provide a connector road to the Lahaina Bypass at either Kupunakea or Keawe Street.

In the East Maui and Upcountry regions, the plan calls for expediting the development of the Paia Bypass Road and starting the first phase of four-lane widening of Haleakala Highway at Hana Highway.

It also proposes a study to assess various ways to reduce traffic through Paia town, including turn and parking restrictions from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a short one-way reliever road from the county parking lot at Hana Highway to a road near the U.S. Post Office.

County Public Works Director David Goode said the department supports the overall effort of the state to consider developing a plan before the legislative session.

Goode said he supports using the cane haul road, but he believes locating the road makai of Kahua Street might be a better alternative. He said the road is narrow and residents back their cars out of their driveways to get onto the street.

State highways administrator Glenn Yasui said developing a route at Kahua Street will probably require an assessment of the soil conditions at the nearby Pioneer Mill.

Yasui said developing the first phase of the Lahaina Bypass through Ikena Avenue, mauka of Kahua Street and closer to Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High School, may be a better alternative.

Goode said building a connector road to the Lahaina Bypass seems to have some obstacles. He said the county may have to acquire ceded lands and face unresolved legal disputes during the land acquisition.

Copies of the plan may be obtained by calling (808) 587-1845 or by e-mailing dotstp@exec.

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