A small Maui town flooded with tourists looks to state, county officials for traffic control

All over Hawaii, the return of tourism means the return of traffic.
Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:31 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The return of tourism means the return of traffic.

In one small town on Maui’s North Shore, residents are begging the state and county for help.

With thousands of people visiting the historic town of Paia and drive the famous road to Hana, it can get bumper to bumper all along Hana Highway.

Residents say they are long overdue for a bypass road.

“It just seems like there should be a better way around Paia,” said Kuau resident Todd Nance.

Nance lives in Kuau and works in Lahaina. He gets stuck in Paia town traffic five days a week.

“This is the one big bottleneck for so many people going home in Haiku, Kuau, upcountry, Hana, Huelo, all those areas where people live and they have to go through this,” Nance said.

Hawaii Department of Transportation officials said they initially studied a bypass alignment from the Spreckelsville area to Hookipa Beach Park that was estimated at about $120 million. But due to a lack of funding, the project was put off.

“The rental car surcharge that was passed two years ago, that is intended to pay for projects like the Paia bypass. But due to the pandemic, the revenues have been impacted greatly. So, we need to reassess how much will be available from that,” said Lauren Armstrong, Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director.

Armstrong said now that visitors are back, they are hoping to get the money they need.

“We met prior to the pandemic to at least get the discussion going about alternative routes for a bypass in Paia. But since the pandemic hit, everything came to a halt. But we’ve started talks again,” said Maui County Councilman for the district, Mike Molina.

DOT officials said the Paia bypass is the fourth priority for State Highways in the Maui District. Nance hopes relief comes soon.

“I just wish they make this a priority,” he said. “It’s only going to get worse.”

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