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Road to Nowhere

Where and when will the Kīhei-Upcountry highway begin and end?

February 17, 2011
Jim Nixon · Wailea

Meetings were held to get public input. Planning dragged on. In 2003, then Hawai‘i DOT Director Rodney Haraga stated publicly that the proposed highway’s end points at Hali‘imaile and Kaonoulu Street were “pretty much final,” because changes would cause a delay of at least two years.

Gary Elster of the Kīhei Community Association was then quoted by The Maui News as saying, “A two-year delay to get it right instead of waiting 20 years to fix it made sense.” And time passed.

On Dec. 22, 2006, The Maui News announced the state Highways Division would award a contract “within weeks” to begin road design with the help of a federal grant of $1.2 million. “Eventually a two-lane road from Līpoa Street to Haleakalā Highway was chosen,” they reported.

It is by no means clear just where this road, if it is ever built, will intersect the Pi‘ilani Highway. The Kona Blog last year stated they assumed the road would link facilities on Haleakalā with the Maui Research & Technology Park (i.e. Līpoa Street). But a Kama‘ole Sands information piece published recently states the road, now projected to cost $85 million, would end at Kaonoulu Street. They boldly predicted it would be finished by 2099.

A current posting on states that the DOT plans (subject to funding) “a new highway between Kaonoulu Street and the junction of highways 37/371 near Pukalani.”

And just last week, the Maui Weekly carried an article definitely stating the Upcountry highway would terminate at Kaonoulu Street and speculated on possible commercial development adjacent to that intersection.

So it appears we are someday to get a mammoth new controlled intersection a few hundred yards south of the existing one at Pi‘ilani Highway and Ohukai Road, when there is a perfectly adequate terminal point at Līpoa Street, which as late as 2006 was deemed the logical place for the road to connect.



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