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Dec 10

Bypassing the Bypass, Nearly 50 years in the making of the Lahaina Bypass

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM by Office of Council Services

By: Zeke Kalua, Executive Assistant to the Mayor

  Ask any resident about the development of the Lahaina bypass and answers vary from the last 25, 30 even 50 years. A local group of volunteers wants to make sure the job gets done NOW. The Mayor has invited Lahaina ByPass Now, a grass roots, all volunteer group formed in 2006, to his office for regular monthly meetings to make sure that this project comes to fruition.

       Lahaina has been a gathering place for many years because of its beauty and economic opportunities. Many call it an island within an island as it offers an experience unlike any other. Unfortunately, one of those experiences is traffic.

       The primary challenge with traffic stemmed from the construction of three schools built on a two lane road surrounded by at least 2,000 residences. These schools are, Princess Nahienaena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate & Lahainaluna High School. Between the three schools are nearly 2,200 students all slated to arrive at school before 8:00 a.m. Monday to Friday.

 Mayor Alan Arakawa has focused most of his attention in supporting the State Department of Transportation in moving this project forward. Efforts have paid off as we welcome the opening of the first phase of the LAHAINA BYPASS ending this year.

"Now that the Bypass is about to open, we have many people to thank for their support and cooperation especially  Mayor Alan Arakawa who made time in his very busy schedule to sit down with LBN on a regular basis for an exchange of ideas and voice his support for our efforts.“ Bob Pure, President of the LBN explains. “Knowing how important the Lahaina Bypass is for not only West Maui but for the entire island, Mayor Arakawa always kept his eye on the project and we at LBN were the beneficiary of his wise counsel and insights."

The Lahaina ByPass Now group will be disbanded come January 2013 since already have met their goals and have accomplished what they are set out to do.

LBN photo.jpg
LBN photo.jpg
Left to right: David Ferguson, Don Lehman, May Fujiwara Bob Pure, Stacie Thorlakson, Lisa Cabinghas. In front:  Mayor Alan Arakawa and and Leilani Pulmano

The Bypass, once open, will help to create a better bus transit for students, operating independent of the highway while minimizing congestion of the intersection at Lahainaluna road and Honoapiilani Highway. The majority of the student population in West Maui live North of Lahainaluna Road. The Bypass will offer a much needed alternative for the bus system by utilizing the Keawe Street Extension which prevents traffic gridlock at the intersections of Lahainaluna Road & Papalaua Road.

 Lahaina ByPass Now.jpgThe Mayor supports this project for many reasons. One is public safety. If there is a need to evacuate the upper portions of Lahainaluna Road due to a fire or natural disaster, there are now additional options in place to ultimately prevent the loss of life or serious injury. The road now would have additional capacity should the need arise to evacuate to higher ground in the case of a tsunami warning which Maui County has responded to a couple times during Mayor Arakawa’s term – one in March, 2011 and just recently last October, 2012.

The congestion on Honoapiilani Highway presents many challenges in providing timely transport to the Hospital in central Maui. The Lahaina Bypass provides first responders a better opportunity to get to service victims relying on adequate medical care within the time frame of the ‘Golden Hour’.

The visitor industry is the primary economic generator in Maui County and inadequate infrastructure creates delays and impacts in the overall experience that the community strives very hard to deliver to those visiting Maui. The construction of the Lahaina ByPass supports our efforts to ensure a great experience for our visitors as well as a better flow of traffic for our residents and as they continue to provide the quality service to our guests on island as we live up to the standard of being voted the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine for nineteen consecutive years.

Lahaina ByPass Now.jpg

“We all know that change is inevitable. We have a growing community and a growing demand for infrastructure. This administration’s challenge is to address these needs by finding solutions and working with our partners in the State and Federal level and make sure that things are done right and in a timely manner.” says Mayor Arakawa. “I can only imagine what other opportunities the roads will bring once it opens.”

Currently, Mayor Arakawa is working with private land owners as well as the State Department of Transportation to secure lands in an effort to continue progress on the construction and ultimately completion of the Lahaina Bypass.


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