8/24/19 #kihei #kiheihighschool #roundabout
Yesterday a contingent from KCA spent a good part of the day at the State capitol for participation in a meeting hosted by South Maui State representative Tina Wildberger  with both the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and Transportation (DOT), as well as the Land Use Commission (LUC).  Also over from Maui to participate was Pacific Rim Land (think R & T Park) rep Ryan Churchill. Tina, with assistance from her office manager Natasha, was an outstanding hostess as well as meeting facilitator.  We were very pleased with the meeting and look forward to progress on all fronts with both departments. We continue to appreciate the LUC on numerous levels. 

The purpose of the meeting was to address our community concerns for multimodal safe transportation, commencing at the site of the now under-construction high school mauka of the Pi’ilani Highway near the intersection with Kulanihakoi Road; additionally expanding from there both north and south along that state highway, examining the numerous intersections, whether signalized now or designated to be at some future time. Included in the discussion was how roundabouts could improve most all of the intersections, as has been shown not only on the mainland but in most of the developed world.

As a visual aid we were very pleased with the huge (you see it is much taller than Tina)  “South Maui Roads” map  our rep had created by State Office of Planning. Even more so all the free hand additions she added from printing out the goals to marking all the intersections currently signalized (see the red, yellow and green boxes) to those especially improved with a roundabout (circled stars).  It really helped with the discussions. Bonus – we were able to keep it for our office in Kihei – once we convinced TSA it was NOT a weapon.

Beyond that, the plan was to discuss in detail what is happening with construction of the school. In addition to the countless delays. it had been difficult to obtain information from the DOE. Based on the discussions, we now expect to be able to obtain status reports quarterly. We appreciate Kathleen Dimino,  our on-island representative for her expressed support and willingness to be the KCA contact person. Additionally, we are aware John Chung has only been in the position for the past few years. So we are looking favorably to moving forward to a much improved relationship as a result of this meeting.

On the transportation segment, going way beyond the much discussed required off-grade crossing for pedestrians & bicyclists (think underpass) at the Kulanihakoi gulch for the high school, was the overall safety concern on this state roadway. As our community is too well aware, we have had six fatalities in the past year, so the situation is worsening. On the inconvenience side we see the jam ups each morning and afternoon as the Charter school guys clog the Lipoa St intersection. (Imagine that intersection with an off-grade pedestrian passage and a modern roundabout). How many other intersections along the Pi’ilani could have roundabouts?   Picture traveling across Kihei with 0 red lights at a near constant steady fuel-saving driving pace; no stop and go, no watching to ensure those guys are not running a red light.

The sole rep from the state DOT was Ed Sniffen. We did expect the Maui rep Robin Shishito as he’s very familiar with the  Pi’ilani Hwy. While Ed is the THE highways guy for the state. local perspective can be useful, but we think Ed did hear what we were stating, and we offered lots of documentation as meeting takeaway. 

An endeavor of this nature for an all volunteer, unfunded non profit organization is not easy. Time away from work, away from family and travel expenses are a burden. But we decided to go forward  because we believe these are paramount community issues. People are dying on this road at an alarming rate. We have waited for decades for this school. Student (and teachers/staff) safety is demanded  by our community. Our voice must be heard by the State Administration now! GOKIHEI!  IMUA!