Thanks to several years of advocating by community groups, Maui County is moving ahead with $2.5 million worth of improvements for a Maalaea road that has suffered extensive flood damage from heavy rain events in recent years.
"We're so pleased that the county moved ahead with this. We really felt the way the process unfolded was something that represented the community and the county working together," said Pam Daoust, president of the Maalaea Community Association, which led the charge in pressing for the improvements.
She called the existing drainage system a serious safety and environmental problem.
Workers from Goodfellow Brothers and Sonny Vick’s Paving prepare the swale over a box culvert on Maalaea’s Hauoli Street for paving on Jan. 20, 2011. Maui County is moving ahead with $2.5 million worth of improvements for Hauoli Road, which include replacing an existing drainage culvert with a 4-foot-by-8-foot double-cell box culvert.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Indeed, the county says the improvement are needed because the existing system is inadequate to handle runoff generated by a so-called 100-year storm, according to a final environmental assessment recently completed for the project by the county's Department of Public Works.
It's also needed to prevent future flooding along Hauoli Street and to neighboring properties, as was seen most recently in December 2010 and January 2011, when floodwaters inundated the Island Sands Resort condominium's ground floors and flooded other condos in the area with water and mud.
Daoust said the last major flooding event resulted in property damage and the closing of the road, "creating extremely hazardous conditions, especially for folks living on the second half of Hauoli Street, which was rendered completely inaccessible. The flooding also caused a huge flow of mud, sediment and trash into the ocean that did not dissipate for many weeks afterward."
The county's plans call for replacing an existing drainage culvert that crosses under Hauoli Street with a 4-foot-by-8-foot double-cell box culvert. Together with other improvements, the work will "increase the capacity of the drainage system to handle storm water flow and alleviate flooding and over-topping along Hauoli Street."
A 3- to 4-foot retaining wall will be added to the existing drainage channel to increase capacity and prevent flooding.
To address debris and sedimentation, a 200-foot-by-150-foot water quality basin - and grassed drainage channel to connect it to the culvert - will also be built on the mauka side of the street to allow sediment to settle before runoff drains into the culvert and discharges into the ocean.
The use of county lands and county funds triggered the need for an environmental assessment. The final report was recently published by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control with a finding of no significant impact determination.
The next step will be to seek special management area and shoreline setback permits, which will require input and approval from the Maui Planning Commission.
The department hopes to go before the commission in either February or March, according to Public Works Deputy Director Rowena Dagdag-Andaya. She said the work will be put out to bid once the permits are secured.
The county's current fiscal 2013 budget includes approximately $2.5 million for the CIP work, Dagdag-Andaya said.
Daoust with the Maalaea Community Association encouraged other community organizations to lobby county officials for needed public works projects. She estimates that the association advocated for the Hauoli Street improvements for "at least five to six years - and maybe longer."
"There's a lot of competition for capital funds with so many worthy projects that need to be done," she said. "If community groups identify a major project like this, you do need to spend the time to contact your officials and advocate on a regular basis so it doesn't get lost among the competition."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.