Hana Highway Reopens Ahead of Schedule
Over 10 miles of the road remained closed for the duration of the stabilization work and drivers that did not heed roadway signs announcing the road closure were forced to turn around at Kipahulu and return to central Maui via Hana’s winding roads.
“Educating drivers– mostly visitors– that there was no ‘through’ traffic on the eastern side of the island, proved to be one of the more challenging obstacles,” Tavares noted. “To the dismay of the residents, many drivers used private driveways in Kipahulu to turn around and park illegally, which added to the distress of the affected community. I’m sure these residents are relieved as well.
“I took office three months after the earthquake and began to work with the two communities that were facing hardship in the conditions that the earthquake created,” Tavares continued. “We had to quickly gain an assessment and focus our work on completing the large-scale mitigation work as soon as possible. We also needed to be sensitive and mindful of the cultural and historical importance of the areas.”
One business, the Kaupo Store, suffered significant losses when visitor travel around the eastern side of Haleakala through Kaupo stopped due to the post-earthquake road closure. “This local business had to endure the aftermath of a natural disaster, and I encourage people to stop by and support the Kaupo Store.”
Nearly 150 people from the Kaupo and Kipahulu communities came together to celebrate the much-anticipated reopening at a rededication ceremony held today on the Alelele Bridge. In attendance was Senator J. Kalani English, whose district includes the remote eastern side of Maui.
“This highway is more than just a road”, Senator English told the crowd. “Growing up in Hana and traveling this road, I remember the stories of the place and how it brought families and friends together. I appreciate that Mayor Tavares held her ground and completed the work, despite certain agencies suggesting that the road not be reopened.”
Cultural practitioner Kahu Lyons Naone, conducted the rededication ceremony and guests were treated to traditional Hawaiian luau food hosted by Janod Contractors, Inc., the final contractor of the multi-phased project. National Park Service Acting Superintendent Mark Rentz, representing Superintendent Marilyn Parris who was out of town, remarked on the exceptional partnership between Haleakala National Park and the County. The National Park Service owns portions of land in the area that were affected by the earthquake.