West Maui Projects Focus of Advisory Meeting Tonight in Lahaina

By Wendy Osher

Several West Maui projects will be the focus of tonight’s (Wednesday, January 27, 2010) meeting of the Governor’s council of neighbor island advisors for Maui.

A county engineer will give an informational presentation on the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control project, DLNR managers will present an update on projects at the Lahaina Small boat harbor, and the Governor’s Maui Liaison, George Kaya will update the public on Highway projects in West Maui. The council will also elect a new vice chair to replace Carl Lindquist who, along with his wife Rae, was lost in a flash flood in Hana on Thanksgiving night.

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui meets tonight, Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 5:00 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Maui.  The public is invited to attend.

Guest speakers will include:  Joe Kreuger, engineer from the County of Maui Engineering Division; Nicholas Giaconi, Maui District manager of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and George Kaya, the Governor’s Maui Liaison.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

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Lindquist Post to be Filled, West Maui Projects Presented

By Wendy Osher

Several West Maui projects will be the focus of the next meeting of the Governor’s council of neighbor island advisors for Maui.

A county engineer will give an informational presentation on the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control project, DLNR managers will present an update on projects at the Lahaina Small boat harbor, and the Governor’s Maui Liaison, George Kaya will update the public on Highway projects in West Maui. The council will also elect a new vice chair to replace Carl Lindquist who, along with his wife Rae, was lost in a flash flood in Hana on Thanksgiving night.

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui will meet on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 5:00 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Maui. The public is invited to attend.

Guest speakers will include:  Joe Kreuger, engineer from the County of Maui Engineering Division; Nicholas Giaconi, Maui District manager of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and George Kaya, the Governor’s Maui Liaison.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

VIDEO: Lahaina Watershed Flood Control Breaks Ground After 30 Years of Planning

By Wendy Osher

The county broke ground today on the long awaited Lahaina Watershed Flood Control Project.  The project is designed to divert floodwater from the heavily populated Lahainaluna, Puamana and the surrounding area.  Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares said that after 30 years of planning, a half a century of discussion, she is pleased to see the first phase finally get underway.

David "Buddy" Nobriga and Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares join in breaking ground on the long-awaited Lahaina Watershed Flood Control Project. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what the impact of this is going to be and the beneficial part of it for Lahaina Town and for our near-shore waters.  Several years ago, we had a flood situation in Lahaina where, as a council member, I saw hundreds and hundreds of claims for flood damage coming before the council because of the inadequate drainage systems to address water coming through Lahaina town,” said Tavares.

County officials say Phase 1 of the five-phase project includes the installation of the ocean outlet at Waianukole consisting of two culverts, a sediment basin and a drainage channel up to Hoikeike Place.  Despite the apparent need for flood control, the project encountered a number of obstacles along the way.  Senator Roz Baker of West Maui recalled discussion over land use, project alignment and drainage points.

“I remember having meetings when I first started to run for office in 1986 with the folks in Puamana who were very concerned about the initial alignment, and what this project was going to look like.  But ultimately (they) became very supportive,” said Baker.

Delays were also encountered with access rights and property ownership, according to David “Buddy” Nobriga, who has been with the project from its start, finally retiring two years ago, after 52 years with the West Maui Soil and Water Conservation District.

“The first EIS they made, they dragged their feet so long.  We need cosponsors to take care of land acquisition, we’re only volunteers.  We can’t tell somebody to condemn their land, but the county can,” said Nobriga.

Nobriga said the threat of flooding and runoff impacts became compounded when the sugar industry stopped cultivation above Lahaina Town.

“We live here, we took sugar for granted, and we never realized, (or the people didn’t realize) how much sugar prevented them from getting flooded…When it rained, they (Pioneer Mill) made sure they flumed all the water they had back to this side…away from the homes,” said Nobriba.

“They had two dirt dams from Lahainaluna Road out to prevent water from coming down…we bring all the water down to the old punawai down at Waihee Village.”

The project took several decades of planning, design and preparation, officially beginning in 1980 by the Federal Soil Conservation Service (the predecessor of the Natural Resources Conservation Service), and the County of Maui.

“As years go by, we forget how hard it was to get it started…every time we had a public meeting, we had to go back to the drawing board again and do something else,” said Nobriga.

Tavares said that instead of waiting for dams and levy collapses government could save billions of dollars by taking preventative measures.

The Lahaina Flood Control project is designed to divert floodwater from the heavily populated Lahainaluna, Puamana and the surrounding area. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“It’s harder to sell prevention than it is to sell recovery…It is so difficult to convince people about things that will be preventive than it is to react to an emergency.  Everybody jumps (during an emergency)…when we could have prevented it by diligently and expeditiously moving this project forward,” said Tavares.

The contract for Phase I was awarded to Kiewit Construction in a $6.3 million contract that was partly paid for with federal funds. When complete, the project will protect over 340 acres both urban and agriculture from flood damage, reducing flood born sediment and protect Lahaina’s coral reefs.

Next Phase Of Lahaina Bypass Opens For Bids

Posted by Wendy Osher

The Hawaii Department of Transportation opened bids today for the next phase of the Lahaina Bypass project on Maui.  Phase 1B-1 is the second part of the five phase project.  The bypass is being constructed as an alternate route to alleviate rush hour traffic through busy Lahaina town in West Maui.

In April, the state broke ground on the initial phase of the Lahaina Bypass. Today, the DOT opens bids for Phase 1B-1. File Photo by Wendy Osher.

Phase 1B-1 spans approximately 1.7 miles from Lahainaluna Road, connecting to the ongoing work on Phase 1A, and south to Hokiokio Place.  Cost of the new phase projected to be $50 million, with 80 percent to be federally funded.

“We are very excited about moving forward with these traffic solutions,” said Brennon Morioka, DOT Director.  “These projects will help to improve the quality of life for thousands of motorists each day, getting them through traffic and home to their families faster than ever before.

The DOT also announced the opening of bids on the H-1 Freeway P.M. Contraflow and Pearl City and Waimalu Viaducts Improvement Projects on Oahu.

“The projects are part of the state’s efforts to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and represent the ongoing commitment of the Lingle-Aiona Administration to improve and modernize Hawai‘i’s transportation infrastructure,” Morioka added.

The Highways Division will review solicited bids and announce a contractor selection in mid-2010.

(Supporting Information Supplied by the Hawaii DOT)

Body Found by Fisherman at Honolua Bay

By Wendy Osher

Maui Police have launched an investigation into the discovery of a body found at Honolua Bay early Wednesday morning.  The decomposed body was found by a local fisherman at around 1:15 a.m. on the beach between Honolua Bay and Windmill Beach in West Maui.

Authorities are making efforts to identify the body through possible dental records.  The cause of the death is unknown and pending an autopsy.

There is a recent Missing Person report and police at this time are trying to determine if the deceased is the same person.

Honoapiilani Widening Project Breaks Ground

A ground breaking ceremony was held today for Maui’s Honoapiilani Highway widening project.  The one mile stretch between Lahainaluna Road and Aholo Road will be widened from two to four lanes, with landscaped medians, pedestrian and bike lanes and intersection upgrades.

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State and County officials joined in a ground breaking and blessing ceremony marking the start of the long awaited Honoapiilani Highway widening project. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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Cultural Practitioner Clifford Naeole presided over the blessing ceremony, marking the start of construction on the Honoapiilani Highway widening project that stretches one mile from Lahianaluna to Aholo Road. Photo by Wendy Osher.

State Transportation officials say the Highway carries nearly 26,000 vehicles daily, and is the only access route available to parts of the island north of Lahaina.  Construction began on October 26, 2009 and the project is anticipated to be complete at the end of 2010.

“The Lahaina community has been waiting patiently for this widening project and we are pleased we can finally break ground,” said Jiro Sumada, deputy director of the DOT Highways Division.  “The highway widening will not only improve access for all users of the roadway, but we believe it will ultimately improve quality of life for West Maui residents,” he added.

“We are committed to seeing this project through,” said Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona.  “Coupled with the Lahaina Bypass, the Honoapiilani Highway Widening project will help our West Maui residents spend less time on the road and more time in their homes with their families. The Lingle-Aiona Administration is moving forward to improve safety on our highways and ease traffic congestion, which saves our motorists time and money.”

When the project is completed, there will be a new side walk on the makai side of the highway and an improved Shaw Street signalized intersection.  Paved shoulders on both sides of the highway are also designed to improve access for bicyclists.

To reduce excessive traffic noise along school and residential properties, a noise wall barrier is also being constructed on both sides of the highway.  The noise wall barrier will have a natural rock pattern on both sides of the wall, to maintain the neighborhood’s sense of place.

The Federal Highways Administration provided 80 percent matching funds on this $18.5 million contract.  Goodfellow Brothers Construction Company, Inc was selected for this phase of the project.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information courtesy Hawaii State Department of Transportation.)

SHARK SIGHTINGS FORCE 2 HOUR CLOSURE OF WEST MAUI BAYS

Two West Maui bays were closed briefly over the weekend because of two 12-16 foot tiger sharks sighted.  The sightings forced the closure of Honolua and Mokuleia Bays between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday morning.  Aquatics officials say the creatures appeared to have been feeding on fish in the area.  No injuries were reported.  Maui Aquatics Chief Mary Kielty reports both bays were reopened at 12 p.m. after being monitored for two hours by DLNR officials.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by County of Maui)