Maui lawmakers request Governor Ige delay Olowalu seawall project

Maui lawmakers request Governor Ige delay Olowalu seawall project
Published: Sep. 17, 2016 at 9:14 PM HST
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(Image: Tiare Lawrence via
(Image: Tiare Lawrence via
Rep. Angus McKelvey (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Rep. Angus McKelvey (Image: Hawaii News Now)

OLOWALU, MAUI (HAWAII NEWS NOW) - Maui lawmakers are calling on Governor David Ige to delay building a seawall in Olowalu along Honoapi'ilani Highway.

In a letter sent to the Governor on Friday, State Representative Angus McKelvey says the request is to "allow time for relevant government agencies and community stakeholders to review the potential impacts of that construction and evaluate remedies."

"There's a lot of misinformation going on about the project, the scope of it and what's really being done and intended," McKelvey said.

The DOT says the $3.2 million project includes stone protection, guardrail installation and the widening and paving of the Wailuku bound shoulder all intended to protect the highway from erosion, but Maui residents are concerned about the project's impacts on the environment and the Hawaiian Monk Seals that thrive in the area.

"You put walls up then the erosion occurs further down the coast, which will require more walls, which means you need to go down the coast even further and people are generally freaked out," said McKelvey.

Protests have erupted at the construction site.

McKelvey says work was supposed to get underway in August, but contractors aren't lifting a finger fearing liability issues.

Maui County Councilmember Don Couch also sent a letter to the Governor requesting an immediate 60-day moratorium on the project. He says the best solution in the meantime is to make use of the cane haul road mauka of the highway.

"So that will give the county and the state more time to come up with a permanent solution which is to realign Honoapi'ilani Highway," said Couch.

The DOT says the crumbling highway is a safety hazard and its job is to protect a critical coastal asset.

The highway was the subject of an emergency proclamation to expedite emergency repairs after it was damaged by high surf and storms in the past.

The DOT says the project went through the environmental process, which included the opportunity for public comment, but McKelvey is requesting more time so that concerns of the community are given a fair hearing and other options are explored.

"Get the DOT to come out and meet with the community and answer all these questions which has spiraled out of control," said McKelvey.

The Governor's office told Hawaii News Now he is unable to comment on the issue at this time.

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