Maui committee seeks to curb bad behavior on scenic highway

HONOLULU — Illegal parking and trespassing are among the hazardous conditions created by tourists driving along an iconic Maui highway, officials said.

The Hana Highway Regulation Committee is working with Maui agencies to curb bad driving behavior on Highway 360, formally known as the Hana Highway, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The winding route on the island’s east side stretches 51 miles (82 kilometers) from Kahului to Hana, spanning 600 curves and a chain of 59 bridges in a scenic landscape.

The number of daily tourists to the highway has increased recently, seemingly overwhelming the road, residents said. The visitors are stopping along the road to see waterfalls and other areas that are not open to the public, resident Shane Sinenci said.

“And if they’re parking along the road, we’ve had gridlock or only one lane is open,” Sinenci said. “On the hairpin turns you can’t see around them, so at times we’ve had 10 to 20 cars having to back up just to get traffic flowing.”

Parking along the highway has been the biggest concern voiced by the Hana community, Maui Police Lt. William Hankins said. Police issued 1,837 parking citations in the Hana district last year, and 1,516 so far this year, he said.

Enforcement is hampered by “the vast areas officers have to patrol, as well as repetitive violations,” Hankins said. “Officers will cite vehicles only to return 20 to 30 minutes later to the same area and have an entirely new batch of violators.”

The committee, an initiative of the Hana Community Association, has been counting vehicles, surveying visitors and compiling other data at various spots on the route, aiming to address the many concerns. It has released a code of conduct for visitors and is working with agencies to educate tourists, officials said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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