We wholeheartedly support the recommendations of testifiers that an underpass is needed to protect student pedestrians who will be attending the new high school in South Maui.
The school, which is slated to open in 2018, will sit mauka of the busy Piilani Highway, and many of its students will reside makai of that thoroughfare.
According to a story in The Maui News, the concerns were voiced at a Tuesday meeting where the Maui County Council approved the first reading of zoning and community plan changes for the 77-acre site of the school.
Dick Mayer, vice chairman of the county General Plan Advisory Committee, put it succinctly:
"There has to be an underpass to allow students to get to school, otherwise you'll have tremendous problems of students running across the highway. I urge you to make it as strong as possible to the Department of Education that the school should not open until that underpass is built."
The story said the whole council agreed and that a traffic signal would not suffice.
"Underpass, overpass, whatever can be done to protect our children is needed," Council Member Mike Victorino said. Don Couch, who represents South Maui on the council, urged that minutes of the Land Use Committee be sent to the DOE to "strongly encourage" an appropriate pedestrian passage across the highway.
A spokesman for the DOE said it is aware of the concerns and is conferring with other agencies about the problem.
We would urge the county to keep the pressure on DOE to announce a solution soon. The school has been over a decade in the making and it is hard to believe this obvious part of the plan was overlooked.
The school is needed, therefore the pedestrian passage is needed. Period. This is a problem that cannot be allowed to throw another delay into the building of this high school.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.