Maui highway overpass plans push back school opening date

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Plans to build a Maui highway overpass have delayed the anticipated completion date of a high school construction project.

The Piilani Highway overpass is expected to extend the Kihei High School development past the 2021-22 school year, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

The school ion Maui’s western shore was initially targeted to open in 2014. The overpass or underpass of the highway was a condition set by the state Land Use Commission when it approved the project in 2013.

Commissioners and community members expressed concerned about the safety of children crossing the multiple-lane highway.

The transportation department decided to install a traffic signal, pointing to studies that showed current conditions warranted a signalized intersection. But the commission voted last year to reaffirm the 2013 decision calling for a pedestrian overpass or underpass to be completed before the school’s opening.

The transportation agency’s timeline submitted to Maui County Planning Director Michele McLean indicated completion of the overpass project in June 2023 with a highway closure and bypass during the yearlong construction process.

Land board and county council approvals for the high school called for the overpass or underpass “to be constructed not just designed,” McLean said.

For the planning department to find the project compliant, “the overpass (or underpass) must be completed and usable before or at the same time that the school buildings are ready for occupancy,” McLean said in an April 3 response to the agency.

An environmental assessment for the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with the design and contract to be awarded by June 2022.

The planning department did not believe an environmental assessment was necessary, but could provide an analysis of alternatives and input from the community, McLean said.

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