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County working on plans for 2022 Front Street Railing, Sidewalk and Seawall Repair

By Staff | Jan 16, 2020

Completed in July 2017 by Sato and Associates Inc., the “Final Report, Front Street Sidewalk, Railing and Seawall Repairs” notes, “The sidewalk, railing and pilasters have been repeatedly patched by County maintenance crews, but the deterioration has progressed beyond their ability to maintain the improvements.”

LAHAINA – Imagine the number of surveys, engineering studies, permits, inspections and meetings required to prepare for the proposed planning of the 2022 Front Street Railing, Sidewalk and Seawall Repair.

It’s staggering.

Consider its location along the coastline in the cultural heart of the Lahaina historic and business district – a well-traveled path by millions of visitors a year with pockets full of dollars to spread along the main thoroughfare, once named Alanui Moi (King’s Road), now referred to as Front Street.

Think about the number of eyes closely scrutinizing every single move that is planned and eventually going to be taken.

The County of Maui Department of Public Works is the responsible agency quarterbacking the estimated $3 to $3.5 million project.

The seawall railing pilasters have deteriorated from salt penetration.

Project engineer is Kristi Ono (“mailto:Kristi.ono@co.maui.hi.us”>Kristi.ono@co.maui.hi.us).

Last week Wednesday (Jan. 8), Ono was introduced to our community at the annual West Maui Taxpayers Association meeting held at Lahaina Civic Center.

A handout she distributed was concise about the purpose and need for the upcoming undertaking: “The county has determined that the existing streetscape elements on the makai (southwest) side of Front Street between Dickenson Street and Lahainaluna Road are in need of replacement to ensure safe pedestrian conditions.”

There is another section also designated for improvements: the existing rock wall along Front Street between Baker and Papalaua streets, referred to as Area 2.

“You might recognize this area as having these leaning coconut trees. There’s ten of them, and there’s a lower seawall much smaller than the previous area,” Ono described.

Reports were issued by consulting engineers Sato and Associates, Inc. in July 2017, evaluating the proposed mega-task upside down, inside out and backwards.

It reads: “A section of the seaward edge of the street approximately 730 feet long consists of a concrete seawall and sidewalk topped by a wooden railing, planters with concrete benches, and wooden bollards. The seawall, sidewalk, railing, planters, benches and bollards are in need of structural repair and rehabilitation due to extensive deterioration caused by wave impact and the salt environment. Various damages have been repeatedly patched by County maintenance crews, but the deterioration has progressed to a point requiring more extensive repairs.”

In Area 2, reports indicate that the trunks of the ten mature coconut trees “protrude from the top of the seawall near the Baker Street (north) end. Based on apparent weathering of concrete elements and apparent age of the coconut trees around which the wall appears to have been built, it is estimated that the seawall is many decades old.”

Further, the “coconut trees growing through the seawall (are leaning seaward at increasing angles and may eventually topple, possibly damaging the seawall. Gaps between the remaining trees and previous photographs of the area show that at least two trees have fallen within the last several years.”

Endless exposure to the elements has taken its toll over the decades.

The phases leading to construction are seemingly boundless.

The permitting stage is close to overwhelming, with the following requirements: Environmental Assessment, Special Management Area Use Permit, Shoreline Setback, Department of Army Section 404 Permit, Department of Health Water Quality Certification, Conservation District Use Permit, County Historic District Permit, Shoreline Certification and various construction permits.

County of Maui Public Information Officer Brian Perry advised the Lahaina News: “The proposed Front Street sidewalk, railing and seawall repair project is in the consultation phase. The Department of Public Works is seeking comments in preparation of a Draft Environmental Assessment.”

To this end, according to Ono, a variety of groups have been consulted. Among them are Aha Moku, West Maui Taxpayers Association, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, LahainaTown Action Committee (LAC) and the Lahaina-Honolua Senior Citizens Club.

Construction questions have been raised, she said.

“We’re hoping to do the work at night to minimize impact to businesses and also try to keep one lane of traffic open at all times. The sidewalk and the parking on the ocean side of the road will have to be temporarily closed.”

Sne Patel is the president of LAC. His statements, in consultation with his board, represent the non-profit’s position.

“The LahainaTown Action Committee supports the proposed Front Street Shoreline Seawall Project, as the recommended areas require imminent remediation to maintain structural integrity,” he said.

“We must all work together to create more resilience in the face of increasing demands placed upon us from climate change. It is imperative we do this in a way that protects us now and our future generations.

“Additionally,” Patel said, “it is our great hope that public input is sought to create a solution that works both mechanically and aesthetically for historic Lahaina Town.”

The next public meeting will be held at the Lahaina Civic Center in February.

An announcement will be published in the Lahaina News.