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Navigation Improvement Project for Ma’alaea Terminated

Posted May 4, 2012, 12:15 PM HST Updated May 4, 2012, 04:49 PM HST
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File Photo of Maalaea Harbor by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A navigation improvement project for the Ma’alaea Small Boat Harbor has been terminated by the project sponsors.

The project involved investigation of harbor improvements to address navigational safety and surge-related problems in Ma’alaea Harbor.

The announcement was made today in a joint statement issued by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The decision, agency officials say, was based on careful consideration of the implementation of costs, regulatory requirements, and other concerns expressed by the community.

Since the project was originally authorized in 1968, a variety of alternative project designs including both external and internal breakwater structures were investigated to address the navigational safety and surge-related problems.

Concerns then surfaced over impacts to adjacent surf breaks and biological resources.  The concerns, which were raised on several occasions, resulted in multiple delays in the planning process, according to project officials.

Most recently, USACE and DOBOR re-initiated the project in 2009, with a focus on using stakeholder input and updated technical information to better define and inform the planning process.

“Through this effort, the decision to terminate the project was made based on careful consideration of the high cost associated with the proposed improvements (particularly in light of the current and foreseeable economic conditions), the regulatory constraints and mitigation requirements for unavoidable impacts to coral reefs, and community concerns regarding impacts to surf sites and natural resources,” said an agency statement.


“Based on stakeholder input, we are choosing not to move forward on this project at this time. We thank the community for their input and will continue to work with residents to identify priority projects in Maui County,” said DLNR Chair, William Aila, Jr.

The new Ma'alaea ferry terminal building under construction, and other terminal infrastructure improvements are not affected by the recent decision. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Ma’alaea Ferry Terminal Project not Affected:

Independent of the aforementioned project, the State of Hawai’i has initiated improvements to the existing harbor infrastructure, including upgrades to the existing utilities, a new ferry terminal building and loading facility, a new comfort station, and parking lot improvements.

These projects will continue and are not affected by the termination decision.

In addition, the harbor’s northern catwalk has recently been replaced.

Although not specifically intended to address surge-related or navigational safety issues, authorities say the projects are expected to significantly improve conditions for boaters and other users of the harbor.

Officials with DOBOR say they will continue to assess conditions within Ma’alaea Harbor with consideration to community needs and environmental requirements.   Future actions may be considered as needed to maintain a safe and functioning harbor.


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