Maui Lu redevelopment provides chance for forward-looking planning in South Maui
February 24, 2015
It seems apparent that most people agree Kihei was poorly planned or perhaps just unplanned. Any professional we ask, be it engineer, planner or architect, as well as people who live here, indicates numerous shortcomings with disconnected neighborhoods, and a lack of adequate infrastructure, decimating our natural shoreline environment and other deficiencies.
In spite of this, we love living here and strive to ensure improvements are made and not repeating these prior missteps, as we can’t turn back the clock. But we can do better when the occasions arise.
The Kihei Community Association has come across an opportunity where forward-looking planning and some partnerships between county government segments and private corporations can work together by interconnecting three distinct projects all in close proximity in north Kihei to enhance the physical appearance, and improve traditional and alternative transportation, while adding value to the private project.
Entering Kihei along South Kihei Road, you encounter the senior queen of resorts, the Maui Lu, under new ownership and management since 2014, with extensive plans beginning this month to basically gut almost all of the existing facilities and replace them with a time-share condo to be managed by Hilton. While KCA did not do a formal “scorecard” on this project, as it is not yet sufficiently advanced, we do sincerely appreciate the meeting of our Design Review Committee with owner representatives Mike Wright and Bill Beaton (see gokihei.org/development-project-review/whats-new-maui-lu-kca-has-some-answers-in-2015).
Included in their plan is giving up a linear strip 50 feet wide along the front of the makai side of the property at South Kihei Road to widen the roadbed into a picturesque divided roadway, with bike lanes and sidewalks. This leads us to the second project: the intersection of South Kihei and Kaonoulu roads. As there have been numerous prior attempts to refurbish the Maui Lu over the years, going back to beginning of this century when a previous owner applied for a SMA permit, and consideration was made to make this a signalized intersection, KCA offered an improved concept for a roundabout. We continue to stand by this progressive concept, now reinforced by our very popular and successful roundabout at Liloa and Piikea avenues.
Continuing south on South Kihei Road we come to the third project, the site of the temporary “bridge,” perhaps better defined as a box culvert, professionally and efficiently installed this month by Goodfellow Brothers over Kulanihakoi Gulch, near the whale sanctuary. Our understanding is that the next action at this site will be another temporary bridge installed just mauka of this location to keep South Kihei Road open, while the actual elevated span bridge is constructed at the original site. Consistent with our recommendations over the past two years, our proposal here is a picturesque actual bridge, including sidewalks and bike paths.
So you see our vision of a vast improvement for residents and visitors to this area encountering this visually and functionally enhanced divided roadway, flowing unimpeded through a modern roundabout, leading to a raised bridge offering a pleasant ocean view, safe for all modes of transportation, whose height extremely reduces chances of flooding compared to a road-level box culvert.
We expect with an enlightened positive “can-do” attitude this all can be accomplished. The Maui Lu people advised they like and appreciate roundabouts, but understood the Public Works Department wanted a signal light. Using this progressive concept will allow South Kihei Road vehicles to flow unabated from North Kihei Road intersection to the signal light trio at Azeka Shopping Center, which is already a logjam at most times, enhancing the concern of the detrimental effect a signal light may have at Kaonoulu.
We present this concept to the readers in hopes of support to improve the overall situation for our community. No, this will not undo past missteps but is an opportunity for a better future.
* Mike Moran is the President of the Kihei Community Association.