While we have given them “F” every semester for past few years, here is what the editors of the Maui News had to offer:
Grading the DOE
Some day, the state Department of Education (DOE) will receive its final report card for Kulanihako’i High School’s grade-separated crossing in Kihei.
On a pass/fail basis, the DOE will fail if a student is killed while crossing Pi’ilani Highway or traversing one of the highway’s nearby bridges. It will also deserve failing marks if crosswalks at the new two-lane roundabout cause traffic to back up for miles.
Two weeks ago, the DOE presented options for the pedestrian crossing during a meet and greet in the Lokelani Intermediate School cafeteria. Options included overpasses, a precast underpass that would involve digging a deep trench across Pi’ilani Highway and a walkway beneath an existing bridge at Waipuilani Gulch.
Kihei community members we spoke with said the DOE’s presentation left them feeling “disappointed,” “frustrated” and like they “just can’t trust the process.”
The frustrations have been building for years in Kihei. The state Land Use Commission’s (LUC) requirement for a grade-separated crossing dates back to 2013. Now, with the school set to open in January and the LUC still holding its feet to the fire, the DOE has trotted out proposals that it says will take between three and a half to seven and a half years to complete. A band-aid solution of busing is proposed for the interim.
Reading between the lines, it looks like the DOE will grudgingly install an elevated crosswalk spanning Pi’ilani Highway. If that is the case, let’s make sure they build something that is both functional and attractive. No mailing it in from Oahu.
This top-down approach is a big part of the frustration in Kihei. People with the worst traffic in America are making decisions about what level of pain South Maui can tolerate. And they are not listening to what residents are saying.
If they were, they would know that roundabouts are traffic solutions, not pedestrian solutions. They would also know that getting across the highway is just the final step in what may be an arduous journey for kids on foot and bike. Does the DOE really expect students from the Ohukai Road and Kaiwahine Street neighborhoods to cross the highway twice?
Any official who has a say in deciding which option is chosen should be required to visit the bridges at Waipuilani and Kulanihakoi to experience how dangerous their three-foot-wide bike paths are for pedestrians and cyclists. No student should be induced to cross these bridges to reach school.
Kihei folks have penciled out how to build a pedestrian walkway from Ohukai Road to the school for just over $1 million. We’re sure they would be willing to share.
At this point, the DOE is staring at an incomplete grade. It has lost points in the categories of: “Turns work in on time,” and “Communicates well with others.” An A-plus may be out of reach, but there is certainly time for improved effort and cooperation.