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Demand action on West Maui traffic

By Staff | Jun 29, 2017

With another spell of “king tides” and horrible traffic, Honoapiilani Highway was in the news and all over social media last week.

Truth is, traffic from Central to West Maui is bad every day, especially in the afternoon, busy or slow season, fender bender or not.

The problems began when traffic lights were installed at Maalaea, Launiupoko and, ironically, at the southern entrance of the Lahaina Bypass.

Heavy traffic goes from two lanes to one at Lahaina and Maalaea, and cars inch along. Add some south swells splashing on the roadway at Ukumehame or a monk seal snoozing by the road, and it’ll take you an hour to go 25 miles.

This frustrating (infuriating?) traffic is impacting everyone, and it’s not good for locals or the visitors who have paid a ton of money to vacation here.

Residents and businesses here have to make traffic/infrastructure the top issue in the elections next year. Solutions must be discussed and funding plans put in motion now.

The highway is a state issue, but Maui County can do its part by freezing any proposed large projects in West Maui until the infrastructure catches up.

For right now, Maui and state politicians need to know that traffic from West to Central Maui is a very serious issue, and that residents are concerned about erosion along Honoapiilani Highway.

Marine scientist Mark Deakos of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER) has created a petition on change.org that everyone should sign.

In his rationale for the “Please Move the Highway, Protect Motorists and Maui’s Beaches” petition, Deakos wrote: “Just over 5 miles of State Highway between Olowalu and the Pali on Maui’s western coastline is under serious threat from rising sea levels.

“Despite millions of dollars spent on seawalls by the Hawaii Department of Transportation, that have destroyed West Maui beaches and critical habitat for endangered monk seals and sea turtles, motorists continue to be at serious risk from the ocean waves crashing over the seawall. When the only highway into and out of West Maui is compromised with the next natural disaster or sooner, the 30,000 residents of West Maui will have no access to a hospital, or a harbor large enough for a barge, or an airport large enough for a plane that can deliver sufficient supplies to a community of this size. The loss of revenue to businesses will be significant.

“The estimated cost to realign this portion of the highway is $100M – a small price to pay to save lives, save our beaches as well as endangered monk seal and sea turtle habitat. Please realign the Honoapiilani Highway from Olowalu to the Pali now, to protect motorists, and the West Maui community. Let’s not wait for a crisis or the loss of lives before taking action.”

The petition will be delivered to Gov. David Ige; Ford Fuchigami, Edwin Sniffen, Ken Tatsuguchi and Jamie Ho of the Hawaii Department of Transportation; West Maui lawmakers Angus McKelvey and Roz Baker; and David Goode, Stacy Crivello and Yuki Lei Sugimura of the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“Please sign this petition to encourage our elected officials to make moving this highway a priority. By moving the highway, we protect people, beaches, coral reefs, endangered monk seals and sea turtles. Your voice can make a difference,” noted Deakos on Facebook.

Sign the petition and begin demanding solutions to West Maui’s awful traffic.