LAHAINA - Lahaina Bypass Now Board President Bob Pure announced that after six years, LBN has accomplished what it set out to do.
The all-volunteer community group founded in March 2006 worked to get the long-awaited Lahaina Bypass started, and to see the first phase of the roadway open to traffic next month.
"The bypass now has momentum," said Pure, "with the second phase opening in March. When that phase opens, motorists will be able to 'bypass' all four streets in Lahaina if they are not planning to go into the Lahaina business district.
The new Kahoma Stream Bridge utilizes an inverted tier arch design that places support beams below the road surface. This design was chosen to minimize obstructions of ocean views for motorists and the Lahaina community.
"The bypass will also relieve severe congestion and safety issues on Lahainaluna Road, providing students and residents an alternative road in and out."
Lahaina Bypass Now has accomplished its goal. Pure noted that the continuation of the bypass both north through Kaanapali to Honokowai and south to the former Olowalu landfill site is now a primary objective for local legislators, the state Department of Transportation and governor in Honolulu.
According to LBN, state officials are firmly committed to giving the Lahaina Bypass priority status in both funding and construction.
LBN will dissolve at the end of the year.
"We are very proud of having made a significant contribution in solving many local traffic problems in West Maui," said Pure.
He thanked the Maui and state Department of Transportation for their "unprecedented trust and cooperation," as well as the dedicated Lahaina Bypass Now Board of Directors - volunteers that have given generously of their time and effort.
State officials on Nov. 5 topped off the Kahoma Stream Bridge that is part of the first phase of the bypass linking Keawe Street and Lahainaluna Road.
Tenth District State Rep. Angus McKelvey said, "The topping off of the bridge is a major milestone for improving traffic and road conditions for the residents of West Maui.
"I am proud of the work by our legislative team to secure funding for the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment Project and thank our governor and transportation department for releasing the funds and starting the critical construction phase. We are working together to get the job done."
Expected to be completed by the end of next month, the first phase spans nearly a mile between Lahainaluna Road and the Keawe Street extension. Once completed, it will provide residents with an alternative route to go around Lahaina Town and avoid congestion.
The reconstructed Kahoma Stream Bridge features a new design with a low profile, minimizing the obstruction of views along the scenic drive.
It also eliminates the need for pillars below the bridge, leaving the stream itself unobstructed.
At the topping off ceremony, Hawaii DOT Director Glenn Okimoto gave opening remarks. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa also spoke.
Attendees also heard from Pure and William Wilson, president of Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company Inc.
Sixth District Sen. Rosalyn Baker said, "This is a significant milestone in the construction of the first phase of the Lahaina Bypass road.
"I congratulate Wilson Okamoto Corp. for the fantastic, award-winning bridge design which preserves the gorgeous views from the roadway, is less intrusive on the landscape and preserves the functionality of the Kahoma Stream channel. Mahalo to Hawaiian Dredging, the subcontractors and Hawaii DOT for working with the West Maui community to move this project forward. We all look forward to opening the first phases of the long-awaited road improvement later in the year and next January."
McKelvey said the bypass will give residents a more convenient way to access homes and schools in the area, as well as serve as an emergency evacuation route if Honoapiilani Highway is blocked by a fire or other disaster.
"The completion of this bridge represents the beginning of the materialization of the Lahaina Bypass, and for the community, a realization of a long-awaited need," McKelvey commented.
The general contractor is Hawaiian Dredging. The estimated design and construction cost is $24.3 million.
The blessing was provided by Rev. Earl Kukahiko.