By Wendy Osher
Officials with the state Department of Transportation joined civil engineers and planning consultants in a public presentation on Monday night on the proposed Kahului Airport Access Road.
The road is a traffic mitigation measure to meet continuing growth in use and demand at the Kahului Airport, enhance traffic circulation, and alleviate congestion.
“In a perfect world, if everything goes well, we should be able to go out to bid by September or October of this year. If all goes well from that point–if we don’t get any bid protests or challenges–we could probably start construction as early as next year,” said Jadine Urasaki, Deputy Director for the Department of Transportation.
Phase I of construction for the proposed Kahului Airport Access Road, calls for a four-lane, 4,700-foot stretch of road between Puunene Avenue and the Hana Highway with intersections at Dairy Road, Pakaula Street and the Hana Highway.
Engineers said the Puunene Avenue / Dairy Road intersection would remain at its current location with the airport access road branching off behind the Harley Davidson dealer and proceeding behind the Maui Marketplace until the road meets up with the Hana Highway, and Phase II of the project.
Those in attendance at last night’s meeting raised questions over cost, expressed frustration over the addition of traffic lights, and inquired about design elements.
When asked why location of the roadway was not pushed further east, DOT officials noted that the land near Hookele Street, behind Home Depot and Walmart, is privately owned by A&B Properties and is part of the company’s Business Park project.
Instead of planning on privately owned land, the DOT focused on property within state jurisdiction.
The state, Urasaki said, “had an agreement to maintain and upkeep Dairy Road until they could come back with a plan to provide traffic relief, which is the Kahului Access Road.”
Three alternatives were presented at the meeting including:
- No-build alternative: roadways would be maintained at status quo
- Roadway widening alternative: widen Dairy Road by acquiring adjacent residential and commercial properties.
- Construction of new airport access road: build a new four-lane access road within the existing state DOT right of way, with two new intersections at Dairy Road/Pakaula Road, and Hana Highway.
After evaluating potential impacts including: traffic, flora and fauna, air and noise, archaeological /cultural impacts, and right of way, officials determined that the option to build a new Airport Access Road was the most logical alternative.
There were also three alternatives presented for the type of intersection proposed near the transition between Phase I and Phase II of the Airport Access Road project where it crosses the Hana Highway. The alternatives include:
- Simple at-grade intersection: typical four way intersection, where there’s traffic signals. Cost was estimated at $25,000.
- At grade loop intersection: eliminates left-turn movements off of Hana Highway by creating a loop pattern. Civil engineers said the traffic would be worsened with this type of intersection because traffic would have to be cued through twice. The cost was estimated at $40,000.
- Grade Separated intersection: construction of a partial cloverleaf intersection and bridge structure. Under this option, the airport access road would be elevated about 20 feet over Hana Highway, and there would be no traffic signals. The cost was estimated at $45,000.
Civil engineers favored the least costly, simple at-grade intersection, saying it was the best fit given the cost and projected goals of the project.
Karlyn Kawahara with Munekiyo & Hiraga, Inc., the consulting firm that prepared the Environmental Assessment, said the proposed project addresses traffic concerns through the year 2035.
Traffic analysis statistics referenced in the Environmental Assessment indicates that average daily traffic along Keolani Place, which serves as the primary entrance to Kahului Airport, was estimated at 15,421 vehicles in 2003.
The same report projected traffic volume to increase to 22,800 vehicles per day in 2015, and 25,600 per day in 2035.
The 30-day comment period on the Environmental Assessment runs through April 23, 2012.
“This is just one step in many of the processes that we have to go through in order to get our full funding agreement with federal highways,” said Urasaki.
After the 30 day public comment period, the state then waits for the Federal Highways division to either say that there is no significant impact; or if there is impact, the state would have to address or mitigate those impacts based on the comments received
“Once the go ahead is given by Federal Highways, the state can then advertise the project,” said Urasaki.