Agreement Reached in Protection of Olowalu Shoreline
The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation this week reached an agreement with community and environmental leaders for the Honoapiʻilani Highway shoreline protection project at Olowalu.
HDOT officials say the department will modify the project to include restriping and repair of the existing revetment. The revised plan will restripe the highway and move the lanes in the mauka direction farther away from the pounding surf.
Authorities say that as part of the agreement, the stone protection originally planned at milepost 16 near the Olowalu General Store will not be constructed.
“We have been in communication with the public and listening to their concerns on the subject for more than a month. Today’s compromise will give HDOT Highways three years or more to work with the community to protect Honoapiʻilani Highway,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, Highways Division Deputy Director. “Our mission is to ensure all of Hawaiʻi’s highways are maintained and protected, while preserving economic prosperity and quality of life. We welcome community engagement and input as we work to keep these coastal assets safe.”
The project modifications were made after consultation with community and environmental groups including Mālama Olowalu, Maui Tomorrow Foundation and Maui residents.
As a result of the agreement the Maui Tomorrow Foundation has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed against HDOT to stop the Honoapiʻilani Highway shoreline improvements project at Olowalu.
“We are thankful and impressed with HDOT’s willingness to reach out and work with us,” said Albert Perez, Maui Tomorrow Foundation Executive Director. “The changes to the project should help preserve an important monk seal habitat and preserve access for ulua fishermen, net fishermen, and cultural practitioners. Now we can move on from the litigation process and work together to address the sea level rise concerns around the state.”
“We are grateful that our voices have been heard,” said Tiare Lawrence, with community-based hui Mālama Olowalu. “Protecting the shoreline for our keiki and future generations is the motivation behind everything we do. We look forward to continuing to work together with HDOT.”
Transportation officials say ttate agencies such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Environmental Quality Control were also an integral part of reaching this agreement with the community.
“The Environmental Council has been working on a positive resolution since the community initially reached out to us with their concerns,” said Scott Glenn, Office of Environmental Quality Control Director. “The project modifications are a big step in community engagement in the environmental process.”
HDOT officials say they are committed to pursuing “all reasonable methods” to protect critical coastal arteries, such as Honoapiʻilani Highway, from coastal erosion, damage from storms, and future sea level rise, while maintaining the environment, which they said, “is a critical component of our quality of life.”