Hāna Highway Checkpoint Terminated, Road Reopens to All on July 16
By Wendy Osher
The Hāna Highway checkpoint will be terminated when the extended closure expires at the end of today, according to Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.
According to the Mayor, the checkpoints at both Twin Falls and ʻUlupalakua Ranch will not have National Guard or Maui Police Department presence starting tomorrow. The information was shared during a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
“We do not have a lot of visitors that are not from Maui now here in Maui County,” said Mayor Victorino. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority reports that there were 42 visitors that arrived on four trans-Pacific flights yesterday. “Most of the people that want to go out there now are local residents wanting to visit family and friends who have businesses or business ties out there and some of them who want to go fishing and other ocean activities.”
He expressed the idea that responsibility goes both ways saying, “I ask anyone who is going out there to have respect for the land–for the ʻāina, for the wai–to do what is right, to be respectful of the people of Hāna. Try not to have much contact. Let’s keep COVID-19 out of Hāna. But they come here and they enjoy, or they have to come to the doctors and they do grocery shopping. So, wear your masks, do good hygiene and do as much physical distancing as possible while you are there and vice versa.”
He continued saying, “We all have to work together–as an island, as an island community and as an island state. We all have to work together to protect each other, to be respectful of each other. So as I said good hygiene, wearing a face covering, and keeping physical distancing is what I profess each and every day.”
He continued to share a thought which he has been repeating at each media briefing: “Only you can prevent COVID-19 from spreading to your family and your friends.”
On Monday, we asked the Mayor if he had plans on requesting another extension from the governor and he responded saying he would not unless there were “compelling reasons,” and deferred to Sen. J. Kalani English who has been heading discussion on the issue.
Lawmakers continue to work on a traffic management plan for the Hāna Highway and are proposing a reservation system for key destinations along the highway like Waiʻānapanapa State Park, to mitigate traffic concerns in the rural community.
The checkpoints after Twin Falls on the Hāna Highway at ʻUlupalakua Ranch on Piʻilani Highway, were established in April to provide an added layer of protection to the isolated community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced traffic during the pandemic, state Transportation crews used the opportunity to complete critical road improvements.
The Department of transportation had planned to reopen the road on July 1, following completion of critical repair projects that were conducted between Kaupakalua Road and Hāna Town, but the Mayor requested an extension of traffic limitations on the Hāna Highway through East Maui to July 15, citing ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that Hāna has no 24-hour medical facility available.
*Maui Now reached out to Sen. English this afternoon, but did not hear back at the time of this posting. This article will be updated with additional information should it become available.