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County looks to make repairs along Front Street

Waves, saltwater have taken toll on wooden railing and seawalls

The wooden railing and concrete wave deflector along Front Street are in need of repairs after years of exposure to the waves and saltwater.

Maui County is looking to replace the iconic wooden railing along Front Street, put in new beach access stairs and repair a seawall and other structures long battered by waves and saltwater.

The long list of upgrades would take place along two areas of Front Street — the 715-foot stretch between Dickenson Street and Lahainaluna Road and the 730-foot section between Papalaua and Baker streets, both popular areas passing through the heart of Lahaina town’s restaurants and shops.

Along Project Area 1 between Dickenson and Lahainaluna, the county Department of Public Works is proposing several fixes, including removing and reconstructing a deteriorated portion of the concrete wave deflector, which has fallen into disrepair from salt penetration, exposure to moisture and chloride intrusion, according to the project’s draft environmental assessment, which was published last week in the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.”

Historical photos show that the wall has been around since the early 1900s. In 1979, the county repaired the seawall and replaced the concrete solid wall with the wooden railing that exists today. At the time, the county also added concrete pilasters to support the new railing, as well as raised planters and additional landscaping, seating areas, wooden bollards and lighting improvements. A concrete stairway was also put in to provide access to the shoreline.

Over time, high surf has taken a toll not only on the wall but also the railing, sidewalk and concrete stairs, which suffer from spalling and rebar corrosion. While the county has done some maintenance over the years, the damage now requires more than just minor repairs, according to the report.

The county Department of Public Works wants to make repairs to seawalls and other structures in two main areas of Lahaina’s Front Street – one section between Dickenson Street and Lahainaluna Road and the other between Papalaua and Baker streets.

The county wants to replace the wooden railing with new composite fiber and stainless steel, remove and reconstruct the upper portion of the deteriorated sidewalk surface with boardroom finish, remove the raised rubble masonry planters and replace them with at-grade planters, replace overgrown trees, remove wooden bollards and patch them with concrete, replace existing light fixtures, repair existing concrete stairs that provide public beach access and replace other street amenities, such as trash cans and bike racks.

Along Project Area 2 between Papalaua and Baker, the county is seeking to repair a concrete rubble masonry wall and stacked, ungrouted boulder wall along the shoreline. Waves have displaced some of the wall’s boulders, leaving various gaps, and losing more sections could impact Front Street, according to the report.

While the county was unable to find historial plans or specifications for the seawall, the maturity of the coconut trees and weathering of the wall “would suggest that the improvements have existed for quite some time,” the report said.

Work on the projects would begin once Public Works is able to get permit approvals. The projects are expected to take 12 months to complete and cost $4 million, according to a preliminary cost estimate.

The full project plans can be viewed at oeqc2.doh.hawaii .gov/Doc_Library/2020-11-08-MA-DEA-Front-Street-Sidewalk,-Railing,-and-Seawall-Repair.pdf.

Comments on the project are due Dec. 8 and must be sent to the proposing/determining agency at planning@munekiyo hiraga.com.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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