Mayor Alan Arakawa is reviving plans to build a beachfront parkway along West Maui's coastline from Puamana to the pali.
The administration is in talks with landowner Makila Land Co. to purchase nearly 200 acres between Launiupoko and the Ukumehame recycling and convenience center for $16 million, Arakawa said.
"This would address the deficiency of active fields, beach access and park areas Lahaina has," he said. "This entire area can become a major park for Lahaina."
Jadine Urasaki, deputy director of the state Department of Transportation, and Mark Roy with the planning firm Munekiyo & Hiraga discuss a proposed extension to the Lahaina bypass, a highway decades in planning. The plan would relocate the southern end of the bypass about 5,000 feet from Launiupoko to Olowalu.
The Maui News / NANEA KALANI photo
In 2006, during Arakawa's previous term as mayor, the county acquired 100 acres in Ukumehame for $4 million from private landowners to start the parkway.
Plans for the parkway stalled after he left office in 2006.
The mayor announced the negotiations with Makila Land Co. on Tuesday evening at a state Department of Transportation public meeting on a proposal to extend the southern terminus of the long-awaited Lahaina bypass.
Instead of connecting back to Honoapiilani Highway near Launiupoko Beach Park, the bypass would continue mauka of the highway and spill out 5,000 feet farther south near the former Olowalu landfill. The Transportation Department recently published a 498-page draft environmental assessment for the proposed extension, which is expected to cost an additional $12 million.
The department is accepting written comments on the study, prepared by the planning consulting firm of Munekiyo & Hiraga, through June 22.
The state says building the bypass farther mauka will help avoid the erosion plaguing portions of Honoapiilani Highway. Parts of the highway are literally crumbling into the ocean. Concrete barriers have been placed along most of the highway's makai edge to slow the impact of wave damage.
"Wave action and coastal erosion continue to threaten the stability of the roadway pavement, posing a public safety concern for residents and visitors of the West Maui region," the draft environmental assessment says. "With this adjusted alignment, the area of shoreline that is currently undergoing erosion and is exposed to high surf which impacts the operational viability of the existing Honoapiilani Highway will be avoided."
Having the proposed exit point away from the shoreline would also "establish a viable point of connection" for any future bypass phases to help advance the Transportation Department's long-range goal of providing additional corridor capacity between Maalaea and Launiupoko.
Arakawa said he supports the proposed bypass extension because it would help ensure public safety within the county's proposed Pali to Puamana Parkway.
"We would very much appreciate the realignment being considered as we're currently in negotiations . . . to be able to purchase a lot of the property that's along the coastline as we're trying to complete up the Pali to Puamana Parkway," Arakawa said. "The (bypass) alignment, if it cuts right through this area, it would create a problem for us to be able to utilize the area for major parks. It's more of a question of safety and convenience for residents to not have major traffic through there."
Arakawa said the county envisions changing the portion of Honoapiilani Highway that runs along the shoreline into a less trafficked roadway.
"We're not looking at removing the highway, but we're looking at trying to use the area as a more coastal, scenic route, so that people can get across the road to the beach without getting run over," he said.
Approximately 35 people attended Tuesday's public meeting on the proposed bypass extension. About a half-dozen residents of Launiupoko spoke out against the extension, which would run parallel to the southern edge of the subdivision.
Most cited concerns about noise and depreciating real estate values.
"I'm really concerned about the noise impact. The noise travels right up the hill," Janet Mar said. "When there's a party at Launiupoko park, you can hear the music and the speakers. . . . I can completely understand the need to move the highway a little bit more inland because of erosion. My personal issue is with moving it that much further up the hill. It's going to be that much louder."
Speaking as an individual, Arakawa's executive assistant, Zeke Kalua, criticized residents' so-called nimby, or "not in my backyard," attitude.
"The idea of, you know, we earned the right to not have noise and live up here, I hate to say it, but that's what we call nimby, and that's what we call selfish," Kalua said. "What about every single person who lives next to the highway now?"
Launiupoko resident Dave Minami said he can live with any added highway noise.
"Noise is part of being a part of the ag community," he said, referring to the subdivision's agricultural lots. "If you no like noise, you better move Hana. The community will benefit, people will be able to get to town quicker, there will be less accidents."
The state Transportation Department expects to complete a final environmental assessment on the proposed extension by the end of the year. The study would then be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for a decision.
Meanwhile, two phases of the five-phase Lahaina bypass project are expected to be completed late this year, according to the Transportation Department.
The planned bypass, which dates back to the early 1990s, is expected to eventually provide a four-lane highway from Honokowai to Launiupoko - or to Olowalu if the extension is approved.
Work started in 2009 on the first phase, which will be a half-mile segment from Keawe Street, mauka of the Lahaina Cannery Mall, to Lahainaluna Road. The segment will include a bridge over Kahoma Stream and an underpass to allow the bypass to go beneath Lahainaluna Road.
Work started in 2010 on the second phase, which will run from Lahainaluna Road to Hokiokio Place, near Puamana.
Time frames for future phases "will be contingent on availability of funding," the Transportation Department said.
* oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/ Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/Maui/2010s/2012-05-08-DEA-Relocation-of-Lahaina-Bypass-Southern-Terminus.pdf
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.