KAHULUI - The Kahului Airport master plan, including a longer main runway, will take years of public effort before a shovel hits dirt for the major pieces of the more than $1 billion, 20-year-plus plan, said Jeff Chang, engineering program manager for the state Department of Transportation Airports Division.
Chang was among a number of state Department of Transportation officials to discuss airport plans during a meeting attended by about 20 people Tuesday night at the Pomaikai Elementary School cafeteria. The event is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to get public input on the airport master plan and noise issues.
chTwo people spoke, including one who said he believes the government would proceed with airport projects, regardless of public opposition to projects such as the runway extension.
An American Airlines flight lands Wednesday morning at Kahului Airport. State Department of Transportation officials met with Maui residents Tuesday night to discuss the airport’s master plan, which calls for more than $1 billion in improvement projects over 20 or more years.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Maui County Council Member Joe Pontanilla said that he just met with U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono in Washington, D.C., and Hirono told him there was an appropriation for "several million to the DOT" to help fix security checkpoint congestion at the airport, which the congresswoman called "one of the worst" in the country.
Resident Jeff Parker complained that the "DOT wants everything it can have no matter how we feel about it . . . Why all these projects in the master plan if they don't plan an expansion?"
But Chang said, "we'll probably never get anywhere near the number of projects we and the public have called for with today's limited resources."
Most of the major decisions rest with the Transportation Department, an advisory committee, the governor and Legislature, said Central Maui state Rep. Joe Souki, chairman of the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday.
But officials did lay out the costs for the Kahului Airport department goals in three phases: 2015-2025 for $76.3 million; 2026-2035 for $543.6 million; and 2035 and beyond for $174 million. The more than $1 billion total also includes design and contingency costs, according to the department.
The goals laid out Tuesday for the airport's master plan without much detail included:
* Extending (main) runway 2-20 from 7,000 feet to 9,600 feet.
* Lengthening the other runway, 5-23 from 4,995 feet to 7,000 feet.
* Upgrading existing taxiways.
* Acquiring land for the runway expansions.
* Relocating the commuter terminal.
* Expanding the main terminal.
* Consolidating the rent-a-car companies.
* Expanding parking for the public and employees.
"We are looking at a tremendous amount of money spent" for all the possible master plan ideas, said project manager Chester Koga of R.M. Towill Corp. of Honolulu.
However, he said that most of the money involved for many of the projects will come from federal funds and user fees from car rental companies, plane tickets and the airlines themselves, Koga said.
The master planning process began in 1993. He said people have valid complaints, some of which can be solved without spending several millions of dollars. Those include increasing the lobby size for more space for Transportation Security Administration agents to move passengers through or having only one bus take people to all the rent-a-car agencies.
"Over the next 20 years, we are going to see continued economic growth," Koga said.
He related this "growth" directly to the number of visitors and interisland flights, though state transportation officials not expect visitor numbers to reach the 2007 peak of 2.5 million arrivals annually through the duration of the 20-year plan. Currently, there's a steady flow of more than 2 million visitors annually to Maui and maybe 2.25 million visitors by 2030, "or tomorrow," he joked.
He also said aircraft decibel levels have "not changed much" and are within normal levels.
The airport's hot topic lately has been expanding the main runway, which has been repaved five times since it was built in 1942. Transportation officials have said that the work is needed to address runway safety, primarily.
Koga said major airport projects would go through environmental impact studies and other reviews, including public meetings.
"This isn't the end," Koga said.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at email@example.com.