Lahaina lawmakers secure $38 million for West Maui projects
WEST MAUI — State Rep. Angus McKelvey and State Sen. Roz Baker reported that through their collective efforts, the West Maui delegation was able to secure $38 million for West Maui schools, roads, harbor facilities and other projects.
The sum includes $1.7 million to complete the state-of-the-art Lahainaluna High School football stadium.
“Not only will these funds allow us to build upon the successful work that has been done over the past four years but is critical to ensure that the people of Lahaina get the state-of-the-art infrastructure that they have paid for through their hard-earned tax dollars,” said McKelvey (D), who represents West Maui, Maalaea and North Kihei.
He added that these projects will also boost the local economy by creating much-needed construction jobs on Maui now.
The biggest share of state appropriations for West Maui revolve around highway projects, with the continuation of the Lahaina Bypass receiving the lion’s share of the funding.
Through House Bill 200, the state budget bill, McKelvey and Baker were able to secure $32 million for land acquisition and construction of the next phase of the Lahaina Bypass, known as 1B2, from Lahainaluna Road to Olowalu.
Of the total amount, $17.5 million will come from the federal government. The state has allocated $13 million in revenue bonds, and the County of Maui will contribute the final $1.5 million.
“The fact that we had to use revenue bonds for the state’s commitment was essential in keeping this project moving forward while reflecting the difficulties that the state is encountering with the special highway fund, which is normally used to fund the state’s portion of said projects,” McKelvey commented.
“It shows how important the revenue measures we passed for the special highway fund are to the people of Maui, especially given the fact that over 80 percent of the revenue will be generated by Oahu drivers for Maui projects like the Lahaina Bypass.”
By securing the funds this session, they will be available once the construction is ready to begin. The funding won’t lapse like other appropriations, he added.
The West Maui delegation also secured funding for work along Honoapiilani Highway to help address rock fall and shoreline erosion issues.
The legislature committed $14.3 million in federal and state funds for shoreline erosion issues along Honoapiilani Highway and other critical state roadways, as well as $16.8 million in state and federal funding for rock fall mitigation along state highways, which includes the Pali section of Honoapiilani Highway.
“The residents of Honokohau Valley have also alerted myself and (County) Councilwoman Elle Cochran about rock fall issues that are occurring up in that neck of the woods,” McKelvey said, adding that he Sen. Baker will work with the state Department of Transportation over the summer to try to include mitigation efforts on that stretch of highway in the money that was secured.
In the Senate, Baker secured $113,000 in state funds for solar-powered emergency runway lights at Kapalua-West Maui Airport.
“In the event we have a disaster and need to utilize the airport at night, lights with solar-charged bay stations can be fitted with lighting on the runway for use in an emergency,” explained Fifth Senate District Baker (D), who represents West and South Maui.
“These lights are an important added safety measure for the West Side.”
On the education front, lawmakers secured funding for all of the West Maui schools for science facility upgrades, noise and heat abatement, special education renovations, health and safety improvements, energy upgrades and playground equipment and accessibility out of the $175 million lump sum allocated for school improvements statewide.
Baker is pleased that she and McKelvey secured $940,000 for the design and construction of student restrooms and improvements of the grounds and campus at Lahaina Intermediate School.
In addition, $740,000 was appropriated for the design, construction and equipment for two portable classrooms at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School to help alleviate overcrowding.
“These new classrooms will allow Princess to relieve overcrowding at (King Kamehameha III School), which has no room for expansion,” Baker explained.
She added that “some sort of redistricting may be our only option to address the issue while we are waiting for a new elementary school to be built in West Maui.”
McKelvey said he is “ecstatic” that he and Baker had $1.7 million inserted in the budget as a Grant-In-Aid for the Lahainaluna High School Foundation late in the budget process to fund the completion of the Lahainaluna Stadium project.
The money will be used in conjunction with private funds being raised by the foundation to help build new bleachers, press boxes and other features to complete the world-class project.
“We are so pleased that the state could help participate with the Lahainaluna Foundation to help complete the Lahainaluna High School Stadium project,” Baker said.
“It is important to note that the $1.7 million the Legislature provided for this important project was one of only a handful of Grant-In-Aid CIP projects that were funded this year.”
McKelvey hopes that once the stadium is completed, the facility can host marquee games. He said he has had informal talks with the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Professional Football League about bringing future games to “The Imu” on the LHS campus.
“I personally feel it is important that we advocate to bring these types of marquee games to the stadium, so we can showcase the state-of-the-art facility as well as the rich history and tradition of a Lahainaluna High School and Lahaina itself to the rest of the state and the world,” said McKelvey.
In the area of harbor improvements, the lawmakers secured $800,000 for the construction of new loading docks and improvements to the parking lot area and ramp facilities at Mala Wharf.
“We were able to secure $200,000 last session for the planning and design for these much-needed improvements at Mala Wharf,” McKelvey said. (Planning and design were completed by state engineers last summer.)
“It was a priority for us to secure the construction funds this year, so that we can move forward on the completed design work right away.”
The project, like many funded by the state this year, involves a mix of federal and state funds, with the state ponying up $200,000 and the federal government committing $600,000 for the construction costs.
“The work at Mala Wharf will help complement the recently started improvement project to upgrade and renovate Lahaina Harbor that was funded by the Legislature several years ago, so that local boat users and fishermen will have two facilities in West Maui that are safe and functional,” McKelvey noted.
The state and private entities recently completed the long-delayed surfer stairs adjacent to the lighthouse at Lahaina Harbor, and all emergency work to repair tsunami damage to the harbor was recently conducted.
The West Maui delegation also secured funding for the David Malo Circle public housing complex for exterior improvements, roof repairs, painting and other site improvements for residents.
“In the end, I am delighted with all the funding that Representative McKelvey and I were able to bring to our West Maui community for a number of important projects this year,” Baker said.
“I think it shows what having a successful team to represent the West Side in Honolulu means in bringing back the resources needed to ensure that we have the quality of life that our residents work so hard to enjoy.”