LAHAINA - Gov. Neil Abercrombie recently signed an emergency proclamation to authorize use of state funds and expedite stabilization of erosion-damaged Honoapiilani Highway.
The soil foundation under and adjacent to the section of Honoapiilani in Launiupoko sustained significant damage caused by waves and heavy rains, the state reported. Lanes have been shifted 18 feet around the damaged section.
A large crack appeared in the makai shoulder of the roadway near the surf spot "Woody's" on May 21.
Noting that environmental permitting, design and construction of repairs to the highway could take more than a year, the proclamation allows repairs to begin immediately.
The proclamation states, " the continual wave action against this section of Honoapiilani Highway will cause further erosion to the soil foundation, necessitating its immediate repair and reconstruction to prevent its imminent collapse"
The entire emergency proclamation can be viewed at: hawaii.gov/ gov/newsroom/pressreleases/HonoapiilaniHwy060812.PDF.
West Maui lawmakers praised Abercrombie's decision.
"Mahalo, Governor Abercrombie, for your quick action to help West Maui by expediting erosion work to keep Honoapiilani Highway open," Fifth District Sen. Roz Baker said of the proclamation.
"Once again, you demonstrate your understanding of the unique situations facing the West Side and you work with us to make things happen."
According to Tenth District Rep. Angus McKelvey, the proclamation will allow the state to utilize extra funds required for the work, which has exceeded the scope of money originally secured for highway shoreline erosion control projects at Launiupoko and Ukumehame.
"The March 2011 tsunami exacerbated and accelerated the erosion that was already taking place along the Honoapiilani Highway," said McKelvey. "Throw in the damage from the heavy rains and flooding that happened this past winter, and it's easy to see why we are in a race against time."
Funded several years ago, the state decided to begin work along the highway when it became clear that the problem was getting worse quickly.
"Fixing those sections of the Honoapiilani Highway that have been undermined by wave action is critical to our quality of life and our economy," said Baker, adding that "it is an absolute necessity, along with completing the various sections of the Lahaina Bypass road funded by the legislature."
McKelvey and Baker urged the state to declare a state of emergency since 2006, even passing a new type of law that year for "traffic emergency zones" that created a limited state of emergency for critical access highways only.
"Despite the new law and the fact that the previous administration had already issued emergency proclamations for homeless shelters in Oahu, the previous governor refused to issue any declaration at all, and by the time the Abercrombie Administration came in, we had eventually gotten through all the hoops and looked to finally begin," Baker said.
"The sad thing is that had our law or a general declaration been made back then, not only would we have mitigated the erosion by now, but I believe the other factors wouldn't have had the pronounced effect they did, because the shoreline in those areas wouldn't have been so vulnerable."
Completion of repairs is expected to take a year.