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House, Senate OK state budget

Includes funds for Lahaina, Paia bypasses and Kihei high school

The state House and Senate passed a $14.4 billion state budget Wednesday that includes $40 million for construction of the Kaanapali leg of the Lahaina bypass, $49 million for construction of the Paia bypass and $40 million for building the new Kihei high school.

The budget, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2019, also includes $28 million to fund the state contract with Kaiser Permanente’s Maui Health System to operate the three public hospitals in Maui County. The money initially was excluded from the House budget; the money funds the operations of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

Forged in a conference committee, the budget was passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday and transmitted to the governor.

The Legislature included $2.3 billion in capital improvement projects statewide. The $40 million for the extension of the Lahaina bypass from North Keawe Street to beyond Puukolii Road in Kaanapali comes at a critical moment with the controversial southern leg of the bypass from “cut mountain” near Olowalu to Hokiokio Place opening on Monday.

Residents and business and government officials have complained that the 2.7-mile leg, which will increase traffic on the bypass by 70 percent according to the Transportation Department, funnels that increased traffic into Lahaina town at Keawe Street. There have been reports of traffic jams at the Keawe Street-Honoapiilani Highway intersection during rush hours since the opening of the highway.

The Kaanapali phase would make the highway a true “bypass” road of Lahaina, which has been facing traffic congestion for years. Gov. David Ige and state Transportation Department officials have said there is insufficient money for large projects like the Lahaina bypass.

However, state Sen. Roz Baker said earlier this month that she has received assurances from Transportation Department officials that if the bypass were included in the budget it would be funded.

“That is a huge 180 degrees up until right now,” McKelvey said Wednesday. He added, though, that “assurances from the the DOT are not exactly made of concrete steel.”

Also included in the budget is a $2.5 million allocation for the Kahului Civic Center for a new Maui Bus hub. In October, the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center informed the county that it would not renew its $1 a year lease for the current transit hub on the Wailuku side of the shopping center. The lease expires Jan. 31, 2020; the hub has been at the center since July 1, 2015.

The county is planning to build the half-acre hub on state property near the Kahului Public Library at the intersection of Vevau and School streets. County officials said that $650,000 for planning and design for the transit hub has been included in the next fiscal year budget currently under review by the County Council, and council budget Chairman Riki Hokama said Monday that he supports the building of the hub.

The appropriation of $40 million for the Kihei high school comes as the governor released $92.5 million for the project earlier this month. The school is planned for 77 acres mauka of the intersection of Piilani Highway and Kulanihakoi Street.

The first phase of the school, which could include 9th- and 10th-graders, is set to open in the 2021-22 school year.

Education Department officials said the campus would be built in phases. The first phase will be the construction of infrastructure, which includes waterlines, roads and grading. Goodfellow Bros. has scheduled work to begin in the summer. The infrastructure work is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

In March, state officials said the design of the school’s second phase was nearly complete, and they planned to go out to bid in May and June, followed by construction permits. A second classroom building and a student center portion of the administration building will be part of the second phase.

Other Maui County items in the measure include:

• $3.2 million for reroofing at Baldwin High School.

• $8 million for the expansion of the music band room at Kalama Intermediate School.

• $12 million for the construction of a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building at Maui High School.

• $9 million for the acquisition of 3,277 acres Upcountry for reforestation and public recreation.

• $3.5 million for an exploratory well in Upcountry.

Speaking in the House Chamber, Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said the priorities in the budget were $15 million for homeless services — $3 million more than requested by the governor — in a lump sum to allow flexibility in providing services; $1.2 million for the Kupuna Caregiver Fund, which supports residents who are struggling to care for ill or disabled relatives while working full-time; and $4.5 million for three new ambulances and staff on Kauai, Hawaii island and Oahu.

The state budget includes $40 million for the construction of new consolidated housing and other improvements at the Women’s Community Correctional Center on Oahu, $21.5 million to upgrade and renovate Hawaii Public Housing Authority facilities statewide and $64.9 million for improvements to the University of Hawaii system facilities, which includes $11.1 million for the athletic facilities at UH-Manoa.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com. This story includes corrections from story originally filed April 26, 2018.