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Goode: S. Kihei Road to reopen by end of next week

Work to replace an old culvert bridge that has shut down South Kihei Road near the old Suda Store since August will be completed “by the end of next week at the latest . . . maybe earlier,” said county Department of Public Works Director David Goode on Wednesday.

This is welcome news for residents and visitors facing traffic congestion caused by the complete closure of the section of South Kihei Road from its junction with North Kihei Road to Uwapo Road. This is a high traffic zone with the intersection of Piilani and Maui Veterans Highway, formerly known as Mokulele Highway, the gateway to South Maui, near the work zone and road closure.

“It’s frustrating for people because South Kihei Road is well used,” said county spokesman Rod Antone on Wednesday. “As I speak, one of our (executive assistants) in the mayor’s office is caught in traffic in Kihei.”

“But this is an important project,” he continued. “That section will be far less prone to flooding and will have actual sidewalks for pedestrians.”

There were no sidewalks on the makai side of the road, he said. The public will be pleased when the $1.9 million project is completed.

“In fact, the only way that area will improve even more is to bring back Suda Store and their chow fun,” he quipped.

While assuring the end of next week for reopening of the road, Goode said his department is working on extra paving toward the Kihei Canoe Club area. He said it took five years to secure designs and permits for the project, and the road has deteriorated in that time.

The extra paving would add an extra day but keep the project within his announced reopening date. Rain could also affect the reopening, though the contractor, Hawaiian Dredging, has had “pretty good luck,” Goode said.

The wet weather this winter wasn’t to blame for the length of the project; allaying environmental concerns were, Goode said. For example, construction techniques had to be developed to allow continued flow of water to the ocean for sea life.

“We just needed more time,” he said.

Antone added that the project actually was on schedule.

The Waiakoa drainage repair project involved replacing South Kihei Road’s old culvert bridge, which had one 36-inch drainage pipe and one 24-inch drainage pipe. The new bridge will have two 10-foot-by-3-foot culverts.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.