LAHAINA - After nine months of preparatory digging, the construction of the Lahaina bypass itself began this month.
The underpass that will carry traffic on what used to be called Ikena Avenue under Lahainaluna Road is under way, and the bridge to cross Kahoma Stream is expected to begin being built in December, according to Derek Inoshita of the state Department of Transportation's public affairs office.
Those are the major components of Phase 1A. The remainder of the work is less-complicated paving to link Lahainaluna Road with an extension of Keawe Street, which will bring traffic to Honoapiilani Highway at its intersection with Lahaina Gateway shopping center and the Lahaina Cannery Mall.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Construction moves ahead on the Lahaina bypass underpass last week as workers arrange a network of steel reinforcing bar for one of the retaining walls for the structure that will carry Lahainaluna Road over the through highway. The underpass anticipates the day when the bypass will extend south toward Launiupoko. For now, its start will be at Lahainaluna Road (where the detour around the deep trench will remain in use until February) and run north to connect to Keawe Street.
It has been three decades since the growth of Lahaina and the resort areas to the north began generating calls for a second roadway to carry through traffic from Central Maui around the town, and up to Kaanapali and Kapalua. The bypass also is needed to relieve congestion caused by local traffic that has to pass through the Lahainaluna-Honoapiilani intersection to access a high school, intermediate school and elementary school on Lahainaluna Road.
The underpass will serve to carry through traffic under Lahainaluna Road without stopping once the bypass is extended toward Launiupoko in a future phase.
The underpass is scheduled to be completed in February, after which a detour around the construction area will be abandoned. There also will continue to be access to the first section of the bypass at Liloa Street and Kaakolu Street.