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HDOT News Release: HDOT response to Representative McKelvey’s inaccurate statements on the Lahaina Bypass and Honoapiilani Highway Improvements

Posted on Jan 11, 2018 in Latest Department News


KAHULUI – Rep. Angus McKelvey released a statement Jan. 10, 2018, regarding the planned opening of the Lahaina Bypass Phase 1B2 as well as the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) plan to make adjustments at the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Keawe Street.

“Rep. McKelvey’s take that the Lahaina Bypass Phase 1B2 and Honoapiilani Highway Improvements – Keawe Street to Kapunakea Street will have “no benefits” for West Maui is inaccurate and ill-informed,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “The opening of this latest phase of the Lahaina Bypass from the vicinity of ‘cut mountain’ in Olowalu to Hokiokio Place protects an important portion of the coastal highway to West Maui by moving it inland while offering another route for those headed towards Kaanapali.”

The opening of Phase 1B2 will increase the efficiency of the two routes in the area as those that want to go from Olowalu to Keawe Street will no longer have to go through beach and neighborhood traffic. Those wanting to go into Lahaina town or to access the beach will have several options to do so from the bypass.

HDOT’s response to the other inaccurate statements in Rep. McKelvey’s news release:

• “This proposal, which involves essentially removing one of the existing northbound lanes from the highway, will have a detrimentally profound and negative impact that will result in more traffic congestion for the West Side of Maui.”

HDOT is planning modifications to the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Keawe Street, which serves as the interim northern terminus of the Lahaina Bypass.

Keawe Street is being modified to have a free right turn onto Honoapiilani Highway to accommodate the additional northbound traffic from the bypass as projections through 2020 show that 70 percent of cars will utilize the bypass from Olowalu to Keawe Street. The Mauka through lane on Honoapiilani Highway will be modified as it approaches Keawe Street to allow for the free right turn lane’s safe implementation.

• “HDOT’s proposal cordons off the existing northbound right lane of Honoapiilani Highway for through traffic with hard barriers. This forces drivers to move to the left before the barriers or be forced in the opposite direction of where they are going and required to loop around the entire town of Lahaina to re-merge.”

Should a driver heading north on Honoapiilani at Keawe not be able to access the through lane, he or she can turn around on one of Keawe’s side streets or reenter Honoapiilani through one of the southern connector roads such as Lahainaluna Street, Hokiokio Place, Kai Hele Ku Street, or the South Connector Road.

• “To make matters worse, McKelvey said the only discussion the HDOT held about this proposal was a “so called” community meeting with a handful of residents and businesses that was announced at the last minute.”

HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen and the Maui District Engineer met with the West Maui Taxpayers Association (WMTA) in the first week of December 2017 to discuss WMTA concerns and potential solutions. HDOT agreed to work with the community on adjustments based on field observations following the opening of Phase 1B2 of the bypass and also agreed to review access issues on Keawe Street with the potential to cause congestion. This was in addition to the public meetings held over the decades since the Lahaina Bypass was first conceived of. The latest of these meetings were held in 2007 and 2015. Minutes and sign in sheets from these public meetings can be found in the Lahaina Bypass, Proposed Relocation of the Southern Terminus – Final Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact, Vol II of II (2015) available at

• “The Maui representative is also greatly concerned that both the environmental impact statement process as well as the federal design process, which requires public input response in community facilitation, has been completely ignored.”

The environmental documents for the Lahaina Bypass, which includes Environmental Impact Statements from 1990, 2002, and 2015, are posted on the HDOT website at

The initial Lahaina Bypass Project consisted of the development of a bypass route between Puamana Park and Hanakaoo Point near Kaanapali. The widening of Honoapiilani Highway between Hanakaoo point and Honokowai was also proposed as part of this action. A Record of Decision for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved on June 18, 1991, by the Federal Highway Administration. The southern terminus in this initial alignment would have functioned the same as what is being constructed today. Traffic from Honoapiilani Highway flows onto the Bypass and a new Southern Connector would have been constructed.

Subsequent to the initial EIS, the alignment of the project was modified to extend the northern terminus of the bypass from Hanakaoo Point to Honokowai and to extend the southern terminus from Puamana to Launiupoko. A Record of Decision for the Supplemental EIS was approved on October 14, 2003 by the FHWA.

Subsequent to the Supplemental EIS, HDOT did an Environmental Assessment (EA) to relocate the southern terminus of the Lahaina Bypass from the approved terminus point at Launiupoko to the vicinity of the former Olowalu Landfill. The intent of this EA was to determine whether extending the Lahaina Bypass an additional 4,800 feet, as measured along Honoapiilani Highway, provides benefits towards preservation of the State Highway System from coastal hazards as well as providing enhanced capacity between Central Maui and West Maui. On December 9, 2015, the Final Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact was submitted.

For more information on the Lahaina Bypass Phase 1B2


Shelly Kunishige
Department of Transportation
Public Affairs Office
Office: (808) 587-2161
Cell: (808) 282-2690
E-mail: [email protected]