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Residents hope greenway will ease traffic, offer safe exercise route

State-county agency looking to develop 25-mile multiuse trail in West Maui

Cyclists go for a ride in West Maui. Residents are hoping a 25-mile multiuse greenway proposed for the area will create a safer area for bicycling, running and walking, as well as alleviate traffic in West Maui. MAUI BICYCLING LEAGUE photo

When Kaanapali resident Ellen Hobart goes for a ride in West Maui, the current conditions of the bike paths make it challenging to access markets or feel safe while exercising.

“The bike paths are pretty beat up, so you’re kind of going through areas that you’re not supposed to be going on,” Hobart said. “It would be wonderful to have the bike paths for us.”

Hobart is among many West Maui residents who are hoping a proposed 25-mile multiuse trail will create a healthy and safe venue for biking, walking or running, as well as a possible route to commute to work or school.

The Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday night introduced the master plan for the West Maui Greenway, which would one day connect Ukumehame and Lipoa Point.

Nearly 80 percent of the 75 to 80 participants on Tuesday night said that they would use the West Maui Greenway to walk, bike or run for pleasure and recreation, while the remaining participants would use it to commute to work, school or the store.

A map shows the route of a proposed 25-mile multiuse trail that will one day connect Ukumehame and Lipoa Point. Map courtesy West Maui Greenway Master Plan

Terri Abay-Abay, who lives and works in West Maui, walks for fun and fitness three to four times a week, so “it would be really nice to have other venues to go.”

As the situation stands now, the current bike paths are “not contiguous,” Hobart said. Cyclists are hoping the greenway will offer a safer, uninterrupted stretch of road.

Having to pop onto the road and share the space with motorists is a safety concern for Lahaina resident Michael Markham, who has had “a lot of close calls” while cycling.

“I always felt it safer to have a greenway,” said Markham, who often rides through Lahaina town to run errands and cycles up to Kapalua or down to Maalaea for exercise. “I think it would be a huge asset. Even to cut down on the number of cars, rental cars, between Kaanapali and Lahaina town for people going to dinner or something — it would open up a lot of options.”

For practicality and for recreation, David Senior agreed that having a greenway would have a big impact on traffic, mitigate safety issues and attract more cyclists.

“It would be an unbelievable thing if you could make that happen,” Senior said during the meeting.

Saman Dias, chairperson of the Maui Bicycling League, said that in addition to recreation and enjoyment, the project should also take into account a design that is logical and convenient for commuting cyclists who work in West Maui.

“That will be the best thing that can happen for the west side,” Dias said.

The Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization will continue to gather input to develop the West Maui Greenway Master Plan, which will include branding for the greenway, a preferred route alignment, proposed trail types and implementation strategies to move the project to the next stage of development.

“The vision is to create a safe, comfortable and joyful greenway path through West Maui that serves as a multiuse path connecting people to destinations while highlighting the diverse history, landscape and culture of the region,” MPO Executive Director Lauren Armstrong said during the Zoom meeting.

A draft plan is anticipated to be completed by July or August, and a final master plan should be ready by September.

“There’s a lot of energy for this greenway, and a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, so really the purpose of this master plan is to get this project beyond a planning document and really set it up for success so that it can be implemented in the near term,” said Project Manager Deven Young from Alta Planning and Design.

Maui MPO received federal funding for the development of the master plan, Armstrong said. Still, Young said that it’s too early to disclose potential costs for the construction of the greenway as well as the projected timeline.

The West Maui Greenway Master Plan will be in alignment with current Maui County and state infrastructure improvement projects slated for areas along Honoapiilani Highway, Armstrong said.

The next community meetings are scheduled for March, May and August.

For more information about the project or to provide input, visit westmauigreenway.altago.site.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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