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Ask the Mayor: Why Aren’t More Roads Being Built?

Posted March 12, 2017, 12:00 PM HST Updated March 13, 2017, 12:16 PM HST
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Honoapiʻilani Hwy (30) at Mile 7. 10.11.16, PC: Sherrell Romero

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Mr. Mayor,

Q: Our roads are packed up—going from Upcountry to Lahaina takes 1.5 hours in a morning with low traffic flow, so why you are not building new roads with bicycle and scooter paths as they do anywhere else? It is obvious we need more roads if we are accommodating more people; what is your planning department doing about that?

It’s a nightmare already to drive on the road. Hotels are making millions of dollars every month—let them pay for the roads and let them be responsible for road maintenance. 

Their guests need the roads so let them participate financially and keep the money here on Maui.

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A: The project to move the Honoapi‘ilani Highway mauka is Maui County’s most pressing road-related need and something the members of the Lahaina Bypass Committee have worked for 20 years on; however, under the current state administration, the project was removed from the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). This deletion means that it will take a minimum of seven years to get this project funded, even if the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization puts it back into the STIP.

I have personally lobbied for years at the Legislature, asking the state to prioritize the realignment of this highway for public safety reasons, yet our requests have not been honored.

It is time for the people of Maui County to make their voices heard as well. Please take a moment to contact the Governor’s Office to let him know that you support the highway’s improvements.

As for the hotels paying for roads and maintenance, at this time, we cannot isolate a particular industry or highway user to pay more; all road users already pay through the state and county highway funds.

The real issue is that instead of wasting millions of dollars putting in concrete barriers along the highway, the state should have spent the money on actually moving the highway where it belongs to prevent further erosion and alleviate the daily traffic backups that endanger the health and safety of us all.

Whenever the highway backs up—which is now several times each day—my greatest fear is that someone could die because the traffic jam caused a delay in reaching medical care in either direction.

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