Don’t open south end of bypass until north is ready

Adjustments at the Keawe/Honoapilani intersection being suggested to lessen the disastrous effect on traffic and businesses from the newly extended Lahaina bypass exiting at Keawe will fail.     

The initial plan was for the Lahaina bypass to go above Lahaina so traffic to and from Kaanapali and beyond could bypass Lahaina. The first bypass section is above southern Lahaina and the second portion was to be above the northern section. Instead, the second portion was extended south of Lahaina, the shoreline Honoapilani Highway also closed to through traffic, so most traffic entering Lahaina will have to exit at the northern end of the existing bypass at Keawe, the busiest intersection in Lahaina — a disaster.

At state highway meetings, it was apparent that the decision to extend south from the existing portion of the bypass instead of going north had already been made. There was requests by some that this southern extension be “as high as possible,” leaving more room for development which, without the shoreline highway, could eventually take the shoreline from the public.

The only solution to prevent the disaster at Keawe is not to open the new southern extension until the northern extension is made for traffic runoff above Keawe and keep the shoreline Honoapiilani Highway open. Local adjustments to it can be made later if needed for shoreline erosion.

The northern extension should be financially feasible if more funds from our local tourist industry were employed here, instead of on Oahu for its rail project.

George S. Lavenson