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HDOT plans to implement Honoapiilani Highway Realignment by May 1

By Staff | Mar 29, 2018

LAHAINA – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) plans to shift traffic from Honoapiilani Highway at Olowalu/Cut Mountain to the southern terminus of the realigned roadway by May 1 – possibly as early as next month.

Following the change, access to the existing Honoapiilani Highway will be maintained via connector roads.

Connector roads for the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment, once called the Lahaina Bypass project, heading north are Kai Hele Ku Street, Hokiokio Place, Lahainaluna Road and Keawe Street.

For motorists traveling south, the connectors are the same, as well as the new Southern Connector Road from Honoapiilani Highway to the new roadway near Olowalu that will open a week after the traffic shift.

At the northern terminus of the realigned roadway, Keawe Street, a county road, will be modified to have a free right turn onto Honoapiilani Highway to accommodate the additional northbound traffic.

The project will eliminate an existing northbound lane on Honoapiilani Highway toward Kaanapali to add a continuous right turn lane onto the bypass.

An additional left turn lane off of Honoapiilani Highway onto Keawe Street will also be established.

“The realignment will provide benefits by separating beach and Lahaina Town traffic from those heading to and from Kaanapali,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen of the heavily criticized plan.

“Moving the main route to West Maui inland, away from coastal flooding, is another big benefit to this project. We have been taking traffic counts and monitoring traffic movements so that we can make improvements to increase the efficiency of the route once the southern terminus is opened.”

Approximately 200 feet of the coastal roadway – at the intersection of the existing highway in Olowalu and the realigned highway at the southern terminus – will be accessible to pedestrians and recreational users only.

HDOT is installing a gate at this location so it can be used in emergencies.

The state is continuing to work on the Honoapiilani Highway Improvements-Keawe Street to Kapunakea Street project, meant to account for the anticipated volume of cars at the interim northern terminus, and an associated project to modernize 80 traffic signals on Maui.

Planned lane closure notices for these projects will be posted on a weekly basis at hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/.

Joe Pluta of the West Maui Taxpayers Association was among a small group of invitees who met with Gov. David Ige earlier this month at Lahaina Intermediate School. The realigned highway was discussed.

WMTA’s primary concerns are closing an existing section of Honoapiilani Highway at Olowalu and the routing of 70 percent of northbound traffic down Keawe Street at the northern terminus of the project.

Pluta wrote that there are “clear and present dangers ahead there at the crossings between Lahaina Gateway and Walgreens/Lahaina Business Center entries.

“That Keawe connector was never designed to be a North Terminus for the bypass and is physically/infrastructurally restricted to adequately be modified with state highway changes at the right of way areas.”

In an update on road projects to Sixth District State Sen. Roz Baker, Sniffen reported that HDOT is installing flashing LED lights on the speed limit sign as motorists approach the curve at the Keawe Street Extension.

A speed indicator just after the curve sign “will collect speed data that we can provide to MPD (Maui Police Department) for enforcement,” according to the memo.

At the Keawe Street/Honoapiilani Highway intersection, underground conduit installation has been completed, and reconstruction of the sidewalk (for motorists to take a free right turn onto the highway) is done.

Upcoming work includes drilling new foundations for traffic signals, cold planing and resurfacing (night work), striping and installation of a new traffic signal.

The free right turn and restriping of the through mauka lane at the Keawe Street intersection will be done at the time of traffic switchover on the bypass.