Mala boat ramp’s 60-day shutdown to start Monday

A 60-day closure of the Mala boat ramp in Lahaina will begin Monday as scheduled, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Friday.

No launching or retrieving of vessels will be allowed at Mala after 7:30 a.m. Monday. The ramp has been scheduled to be closed off until May 16 so that the two existing concrete loading docks may be demolished and replaced, and other repairs made to the boat ramp.

A security gate will be erected to prevent entry to the parking lot and construction area from the south side of the washdown area to the north entrance of the harbor. Silt curtains also will be installed in the water in the mornings at the lower part of the launch ramp, the announcement said.

The repair project will cost approximately $1.1 million, state officials said.

All boats that have current commercial permits for the ramp will be temporarily allowed to operate out of the Lahaina small-boat harbor during the two-month closure.

About 50 West Maui fishermen, commercial tour operators and boaters who use Mala ramp attended a public meeting in November, during which boating officials decided to schedule the closure to begin Monday. Officials said the date was a compromise between the wishes of whale-watch tour operators, who vied to delay the closure dates until mid-March or later when it was no longer whale season, and thrillcraft operators, who wanted construction to start sooner so it would not cut into their season, which runs from May 15 to Dec. 15. The date was ultimately decided by coin toss.