By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and the Kihei Community Association (KCA) have joined forces to improve Kihei Road in South Maui. The Mayor met with KCA leadership last night to discuss issues including flood control, infrastructure improvements, and beautification projects.
The KCA plans to form a committee with members of the Kihei community to determine how best to beautify the area. Work is expected to begin once the County gets approval for the South Kihei Road Phase IV project. The ten year old Public Works project is being revisited by the Mayor to address the flooding in South Maui following heavy rains in the area earlier this year.
The project calls for road improvements from the Kihei McDonald’s to Kulanihakoi Street. Work would include the installation of drainage infrastructure, improving the capacity of the Waipuilani culvert, and installing landscaped medians, bikelanes and sidewalks.
In addition to mitigating future flooding along South Kihei Road, the project also involves the planting of trees and other beautification measures.
A decision must still be made on the future of the monkeypod trees that stand along South Kihei Road. Mayor Arakawa said the community has the option of leaving the trees; however, he said the option would mean that no flood mitigation improvement work will be done in the area.
“We wanted to present all the options to the KCA so that they could go back to the community and gather opinions,” said Mayor Arakawa. “We want to do what is best for that area.”
Other options include the County uprooting the trees and the KCA or another party raising the money to replant them elsewhere. If no such party comes forth, the County could replant the trees at the new South Kihei Park.
The various options will be taken back to the KCA general membership and the community for comments and input.
“The whole project improves the road from down below to up on top,” said Public Works Director David Goode. “It’s been our best option to improve the area because we have all the plans basically ready to go.”
Goode suggested revisiting the plan to gather community comments, SMA permits and reapply for federal and state funding because of the age of the project.
In the meantime, the County will take steps to reestablish pedestrian use in front of the Maui Schooner where the sidewalk was removed so that arborists could take a closer look at the roots of the monkeypod trees in question.
The monkeypod trees will remain at their present location until replacement trees are planted and road work begins, the mayor said in a media statement today. If flood mitigation is approved, the trees he said, must be removed.
“We’re asking for some community input now,” said the Mayor. “But some action will have to be taken eventually.”
*** Supporting information courtesy County of Maui.