Community meetings on Alelele rockfall project in East Maui draw 100+ residents
More than 100 people attended community meetings held over the weekend in Kīpahulu, Hāna and Kaupō, to hear updates on the Alelele Point rockfall project.
“It’s important to go directly to impacted communities who are experiencing hardship, provide an update and make ourselves available to help with questions and address concerns,” said Mayor Richard Bissen in a news release update. “We’re grateful for the time everyone took to attend and the openness in our discussions.”
During the meetings, county Public Works Director Jordan Molina shared information about the emergency road closure, the selection of a contractor, the work schedule and the possibility of limited access for residents when conditions are safe. Emergency services and visitor traffic were also discussed.
Contractor Prometheus Construction Inc. began on-site preparation for the emergency work on Monday, June 5. Construction crews will be operating from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, starting Thursday.
Full rock scaling activities will involve removal of loose or unstable material from the slope. Temporary netting will be used to secure loosened rocks to protect area telephone lines and the roadway below.
Alelele Point cliff face is approximately 250 feet high, and the work area spans about 5 acres. County officials say the project requires the removal of around 1,500 tons of rock debris.
Molina said initial work will take three weeks before the county can assess safety conditions. The overall cost of the project is estimated to be $1.5 million.
Starting May 10, a section of the remote county roadway that connects Kīpahulu and Kaupō, which is less than a mile long, had to be closed due to an increase in rockfall in the area. This closure was deemed necessary after an engineering assessment determined that it was unsafe to pass. As a result, the area between Alelele to Lelekea bridges, Mile Markers 38 to 39, will remain closed until the cliffside is stabilized.
The road is still open from the Kahului Airport in Central Maui to Hāna-Maui Resort in East Maui via the Hāna Highway. The closure impacts travel in the Kīpahulu area beyond Hāna town, preventing motorists from traveling around the “back side” that connects East Maui and South Maui. More information is posted here.
Two deaths due to rockfalls occurred in the area in 2004 and 2006.
- In 2004, a Kīpahulu national park ranger was killed in the area after a 3-foot boulder struck her when she stopped to clear rocks from the roadway.
- In 2006, a Hāna resident was resting near Lelekea stream after a hike when he was crushed and killed by a 2,500-pound boulder.
Kaupō residents who have not been able to receive mail from Hāna Post Office are asked to fill out a mail forwarding form that will redirect mail to Kula Post Office. Residents are asked to report impacts of the closure through the county Maui Emergency Management Agency online form at www.mauicounty.gov/AlelelePoint to help determine the extent of impact and identify people in need of assistance.