McKelvey urging Ige to stall plans for Lahaina bypass

Proposed lane changes to busy intersection in West Maui could make traffic there worse

The Maui News

West Maui state Rep. Angus McKelvey is urging Gov. David Ige to call a “timeout” on work on the Lahaina bypass to prevent “a detrimentally profound and negative impact” on West Maui traffic.

In a letter Monday to the governor, McKelvey spotlighted a “last-minute proposal” by the state Department of Transportation to remove an existing northbound lane at Honoapiilani Highway’s intersection with Keawe Street in Lahaina.

“Not only will these modifications have immediate disastrous results for traffic, it was not part of any planning documents,” he told Ige. “The public therefore was given no chance to comment and receive the responses they deserve for their concerns.”

The highway plan modifications were not discussed with the community nor their elected representatives “until the last minute through the media,” he said. “This rush to implement a lane-elimination plan and make other changes to the traffic patterns on Keawe Street is why I am asking you to intercede.”

There was no immediate comment from Ige’s office or the state Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

A timeout period would allow the Transportation Department to work with the community and formulate a better solution, McKelvey said.

In December, West Maui residents and businesses expressed concern about state highways plans for accommodating greater traffic volumes at the Keawe Street-Honoapiilani Highway intersection, the northern terminus of the Lahaina bypass.

Now, there are two Kaanapali-bound lanes on Honoapiilani Highway at the intersection. And, there’s a right-turn lane heading mauka up Keawe Street and a left-turn lane going makai into the Lahaina Cannery Mall.

The state’s changes would make for a right-turn lane up Keawe Street and only one through lane heading toward Kaanapali. The change would open up a free right-turn lane from Keawe Street onto the highway. Now, motorists need to stop at the intersection’s traffic signal.

The Transportation Department had expected to begin a $2.1 million project last month to widen Honoapiilani Highway to make the lane changes, including a second left-turn lane from the highway onto Keawe Street.

McKelvey asked the Governor’s Office to “step in and halt any construction of these proposed designs until they can be vetted by the community and its impact discussed.”

The lawmaker said it doesn’t make sense to close a northbound through lane on the highway.

“To shut down the entire right lane for those leaving Lahaina town, to create an entrance and exit to the Lahaina bypass on Keawe Street is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.