Rep. Angus McKelvey of Maui today reasserted his plea to halt last minute changes  to the Keawe Street area of the Honoapiʻilani Highway after the Department of Transportation defended its stance  in carrying out the project.
In a press release today, Rep. McKelvey expressed his disappointment calling the DOT’s response a “personal attack” against himself and the West Maui community.
Rep. McKelvey said, “the concerns presented to Governor Ige are legitimate, and have been continuously raised by our community. In fact, there is a petition  that currently has more than 1,260 signatures from concerned citizens who oppose these changes. The petition correctly states that these changes would cause ‘severe traffic congestion,’ adversely affect business owners, and result in ‘extremely high traffic congestion’ for those traveling on Honoapiʻilani Highway and Keawe Street.”
After HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen called McKelvey’s statements “inaccurate and ill–informed,” Rep. McKelvey fired back saying, the department is engaging in “misleading statements.”
Rep. McKelvey called the statement “a slap in the face” to the hard-working people of Maui and said, “Many of us will be profoundly impacted by these changes. As such, we have serious concerns about the DOT’s recent announcement of its sweeping changes in the area.”
“I am morally outraged that a deputy director would resort to name calling in a response to letter from a lawmaker respectfully requesting that Governor Ige – the highest Executive Officer for the State of Hawaii – simply provide his kōkua and leadership,” Rep. McKelvey added.
Rep. McKelvey said extended an invitation to Sniffen to come to the Lahaina and tell concerned citizens that “these issues they now raise were previously discussed in 2002, and their current concerns are misplaced.”
Rep. McKelvey further claims that the DOT “completely mixes apples and oranges” when it comes to the Environmental Impact Statement and the proposed changes for Keawe Street area of the highway. According to Rep. McKelvey, the EIS referred to by the DOT was completed in 2002 – long before Keawe Street existed and there were any homes, shops, or businesses on the corridor.
“These changes were probably not discussed by the DOT because the existing businesses and homes did not exist in the Keawe Street area at that time. Given how much the area has changed since 2002, a meeting with the community is more than reasonable,” said Rep. McKelvey. Moreover, “considering that none of the documents reflect the type of work which has been announced to this area, the DOT should be engaging in new community meetings over these changes as they were never part of the original EIS.”
McKelvey also announced that he and his West Maui colleague, Senator Roz Baker, will be introducing bills this session that would mandate the DOT to hold community meetings when substantial changes are made to EIS that are more than 10 years old. “This should not have happened in West Maui, and we want to ensure it does not happen again for any other community in Hawaiʻi.”
“That being said, I humbly ask the Governor again to help facilitate a win-win solution for this project, and work with the community on these new proposed changes to Keawe Street area of the Honoapiʻilani Highway as well as other issues the community has with these plans.”
*Below are copies of the letter sent from Rep. McKelvey to Gov. Ige on Jan. 8, 2018; and a press release issued by the state Department of Transportation on Jan. 11, 2018.