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Grade-separated walkway problematic, expensive

The new Kihei high school is required to have a grade-separated pedestrian walkway, either over or under Piilani Highway. The state Department of Education stated this requirement will delay the opening of the high school a minimum of one to two years (The Maui News, Aug. 3).

Both of the above methods must be ADA compliant and would cost millions of dollars. The traffic disruptions during construction of either would be significant. The ADA access ramps for either method would be very long and difficult to navigate. There is a better way.

There are gulches at the north and south boundary of the high school property. There are bridges on Piilani Highway over the Kulanihakoi and Waipuilani gulches with at least 10 feet of vertical clearance under each bridge. It would be absolutely trivial to build an ADA-compliant pedestrian and bicycle access under both bridges, 2 or 3 feet above the bottom edge of the gulches. The gulches could easily be made a few feet deeper at a reasonable cost to reduce the possibility of flooding of the pathway. If there is a flood, school would be dismissed prior to and during the event anyway.

There would be no need for a ventilation system, lighting, 24/7 security, suicide prevention or other costly maintenance measures necessary for a tunnel or overpass. The cost savings would be many millions of dollars, there would be no disruption of traffic during construction and the Kihei high school could open on time. Let’s do this!

Buck Joiner

Kihei