Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: What Can Be Done About Increase in West Side Traffic?

April 30, 2017, 5:45 PM HST
* Updated April 30, 5:53 PM
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Lahaina Mini-Bypass. Photo courtesy Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Aloha Mr. Mayor,

Q: As a resident of the West Side, I can tell you I’m not the only one over here who is extremely concerned about the traffic volume on our one and only highway. Traffic volumes in the afternoon regularly increase travel time between Mā‘alaea and Lahaina by a factor of two, three or even more. This has long been the case during high visitor season, especially on weekends. That is no longer the case. We noticed traffic problems all through last summer and into the winter.


To make matters worse, the amount of new construction on this side is going to add hundreds if not thousands of cars to our two-lane pipeline. Further, there doesn’t seem to be any way to increase the size of the pipe by two more lanes. Sure, the bypass when finished will help a bit if some of the traffic is able to exit the highway before the light at Launiupoko.


However, traffic headed for Lahaina or Kā‘‘anapali won’t benefit much if at all from using the bypass. It will be great for those headed to Honokōwai and beyond. We all fear it will not be anywhere near enough of a help with the majority of the problem. Are there any plans beyond what the bypass might provide? Might it be possible to limit the number of rental cars available on the island? We need help and soon– before our highway becomes a full-time bumper-to-bumper parking lot.

A: Currently there are no laws that would allow us to limit rental cars in Maui County, or in the State of Hawai‘i.

Believe me, I am just as frustrated as you are about West Maui’s traffic woes. For the last several years, my No. 1 request to the state legislature was to include money for a true Lahaina bypass, meaning from Mā‘alaea and over the Pali to the other side.


However, the state—in its infinite wisdom—removed the bypass from its long-term transportation plan. This is not only frustrating for residents but could eventually affect our tourism industry and local economy.

If you’re out there reading this and you’re frustrated with traffic to and from the West Side, make sure you call Gov. Ige and tell him. His phone number is (808) 586-0034. You should also call and leave a message for state Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami at (808) 587-2150. Let them know that everyone on Maui has had enough.

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