Nearly a year after public discussion about the urgent need for a major overhaul of Kahului Airport's 71-year-old, 7,000-foot main runway, state Department of Transportation officials remain undecided about which repair option to choose and how long Maui's air overseas lifeline would need to be closed, if at all.
"An option has not yet been chosen," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter in an email Tuesday. "But the project is moving forward."
She reported that the department is working on starting an environmental impact statement for the project.
"The EIS process typically takes 18 to 24 months," she said. "During the EIS process, the public will have a chance to comment on the proposed project(s). The EIS will help to guide the project(s).
"Once the EIS is completed, the design phase will be entered and is expected to be finished in mid-2016. After that, the project would be put out to bid," Sluyter said.
In January 2012, state officials reported that they had developed three options for runway repairs. Those were drafted after a 2009 notice from the Federal Aviation Administration that federal funds would no longer be available for ongoing piecemeal patching of the runway. Former Gov. Linda Lingle's administration hired an engineering firm to study the issue and make an assessment.
A report of the firm's findings was delivered to state transportation officials in the summer of 2011.
In mid-January 2012, the state Airports Division held a public informational meeting on three options. Those were:
In the second and third options, extending runway 5-23 would make it capable of handling Mainland flights and enable the closure of runway 2-20 for repairs.
State officials have said that closing Kahului Airport to Mainland flights for as much as three months is not an option.
For more on this story, read the Wednesday edition of The Maui News.