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Next phase of the Lahaina Bypass extended to Olowalu dump area

By Staff | Jan 7, 2016

LAHAINA – Phase 1B-2 of the Lahaina Bypass is moving forward.

As posted in the Dec. 23 issue of the Office of Environmental Quality Control, the Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact (FEA-FONSI) was transmitted by the State Department of Transportation (SDOT) for the Proposed Relocation of the Lahaina Bypass Southern Terminus.

The publication reads: “The Hawai’i Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, is proposing the relocation of the southern terminus of the Lahaina Bypass Highway from its current terminus point at Launiupoko to the vicinity of the former Olowalu Landfill, a distance of approximately 4,800 lineal feet as measured along Honoapi’ilani Highway.

“The purpose of the proposed shift is to provide benefits towards preservation of the State Highway System from coastal erosion and storm surge hazards, as well as provide enhanced capacity between Central Maui and West Maui.”

Munekiyo Hiraga, of Wailuku, is the project consultant listed in the OEQC Bulletin. In an interview with one of its associates, the Lahaina News learned, “With the Final Environmental Assessment, there is a 30-day challenge period. So if for some reason someone is not satisfied, then they would have to file a legal challenge, not just comments. The comment period was for the Draft Environment Assessment where there was a 30-day comment period.”

The Project Overview in the EA provided background information about the long-overdue Lahaina Bypass.

HDOT proposed the development of a bypass highway through Lahaina Town to mitigate traffic congestion along Honoapiilani Highway.

“The initial Lahaina Bypass Project consisted of the development of a bypass route between Puamana Park and Hanakaoo Point near Kaanapali,” the document notes.

The final Environmental Impact Statement for the initial scope was accepted in 1991.

Modifications have been made over the years, and “the HDOT is now implementing the Lahaina Bypass in phases,” the EA Project Overview cited.

Phase 1A, Keawe Street Extension to Lahainaluna Road, was opened for service in March 2013.

Phase 1B-1 is from Lahainaluna Road to Hokiokio Place and was completed in December 2013.

According to the Final EA, the relocation of the southern terminus is “considered the logical connection to Honoapi’ilani Highway since it is at a ‘pinch point’ between the former Olowalu Landfill and the ocean.”

Honoapiilani Highway (30) is the vital link in the island’s transportation system. The shoreline area in the vicinity of the project corridor has historically experienced varying degrees of erosion.

Relocating the highway mauka, the Munekiyo associate observed, “will protect the main route into Lahaina; coastal erosion is not going to impact it.”

“With this adjusted alignment,” the EA noted, “an area of shoreline that is located within the tsunami inundation zone, currently undergoing erosion and exposed to high surf would be avoided.”

According to the EA, Year 2020 traffic projections for the Highway 30 corridor in the Launiupoko area exceed maximum capacity of the two-lane highway; “the relocation of the southern terminus for the bypass would provide almost one mile of enhanced capacity in the heavily traveled corridor.”

The Hiraga representative explained: “The existing Honoapiilani Highway will still remain, and you’re extending this additional link mauka of the old highway; so, in that sense, it increases capacity, because all of a sudden now you have additional lanes to take you through that stretch of Lahaina.”

The EA claims, “The Lahaina Bypass is one of the HDOT’s top highway priorities, with new roadway infrastructure needed to address Maui’s rapid population growth”

“In the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), monies are allocated for Phase 1B-2,” the consultant advised.

Bob Pure, the former president of Lahaina Bypass Now, cautioned that the STIP is a fluid document; “They make amendments to it all the time.”

The veteran bypass advocate added, “It is one step at a time. Now that the EIS is done and they came up with no significant problems, they will move forward, but it will take awhile. My guess would be 2018 to 2020 somewhere in that area.”

Other Lahaina Bypass phases, going north, are listed in the EA. Phase 1C is the Keawe Street Extension to the Kaanapali Connector. The design of this corridor is in progress, “with construction to follow completion of design.”

The Kaanapali Connector to Honokowai is Phase 1D, with design and construction to follow Phase 1C.

“The implementation for Phase 1B-2, Phase 1C and Phase 1D will be contingent on availability of funding,” the EA states.