‘Traffic nightmare’: Maui residents brace for construction of state’s first multi-lane roundabout

Some island residents have their concerns about the multi-lane roundabout and its safety.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:27 PM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 9:27 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A big change is coming to South Maui — literally paving the way for the future Kihei High School. After years of planning, construction is now underway on Hawaii’s first multi-lane roundabout.

As the state makes way for the new high school off Piilani Highway in South Maui, Kihei residents are dealing with lane closures and reduced speed — something they call a traffic nightmare.

“The way they got it set up is kind of dangerous. The lanes are kind of too narrow,” said Scott Chong.

“There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of cars. A lot of traffic,” said Beth Downes.

Traffic was crawling along Piilani Highway in Kihei Tuesday afternoon where the state Department of Transportation is constructing Hawaii’s first multi-lane roundabout.

Many residents aren’t even sure what that will look like.

“To me, it’s a little dangerous. But I’m not used to roundabouts. This is the first one I’ll have to deal with,” said Chong.

“I have never seen a multi-lane roundabout. I did not even know that was such a thing. So that’ll be interesting,” Downes said.

DOT released a video trying to explain how it will work.

While the roundabout is under construction, officials are asking for patience.

“There’s going to be impacts when we have that single lane in both directions. Drive it safely. It’s not the same corridor that you drove before. So please be careful going through,” said DOT Highways Deputy Director Ed Sniffen.

At least until August, Piilani Highway between Kaonoulu Street and Piikea Avenue is now down to one lane in each direction.

In addition, speed has been reduced to 35 miles per hour along Piilani Highway from East Lipoa Street/Lipoa Parkway to Okolani Drive/Mikioi Place in Wailea.

DOT officials say it is a sacrifice residents should gladly make.

“It costs you a minute and 15 seconds. So, it’s not a big deal for anybody, and it should be one that we should sacrifice very, very quickly if we’re looking at protecting our kids who are gonna be walking across that highway, or our kupuna who could be using that,” Sniffen said.

The current phase is expected to run through August.

The roundabout is slated to be operational by November.

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