Maui County is considering long-term fixes for a section of a coastal road that’s in danger of collapsing if another major storm hits.
A 30-foot (9-meter) section of Lower Honoapiilani Road near Kaopala Bay in west Maui needs to be protected, The Maui News reported .
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Olivia warped and undermined the road in September, though it has reopened after cleaning and repaving.
The road serves several subdivisions and an hourly bus service connecting Napili and Kahana. Critical water and sewer lines run underneath. Engineer Kristi Ono told residents during a recent meeting that damage to the sewer line would be a disaster.
Public Works Director David Goode said that the department is working on temporary repairs, but it’s awaiting approval by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.
Public Works officials said no funds have been secured for design or permitting of permanent repairs, and construction is at least two years away.
In one area, the utility lines are just a few feet from being exposed and under pressure, Goode said.
Goode said he believes the project could be the first of many the county faces as more coastal roads face erosion from rising sea levels.
“Our department will likely ask the council for funding to start doing detailed studies on what we do in these areas where sea level rise is going to cut off roadways,” he said. “This one is kind of at the forefront because of the wave action in this area.”
Among the alternatives the county presented to West Maui residents were a cement-rubble-masonry seawall, a rock revetment, managed retreat from the coast or do nothing.
The seawall would provide maximum protection of the road and utilities and cost $3.4 million to $4.1 million, according to Public Works. Installing a wall also would have a low impact on marine life, and minimize the coastal footprint and impact on coastal processes.
The rock revetment is estimated to cost $3.4 million to $6 million and offers the same protection as the seawall. It would require a wider footprint.
A managed retreat inland would require a feasibility study because it could cost the county anywhere from $20 million to $25 million to purchase and condemn private lands. Utilities would need to be moved, and residents on Puamana Place would need to find a different entry way.
If the county were to do nothing, the lower road would likely be reduced to a one-lane road and eventually convert into a pedestrian and bike road, Ono said. Other roads would be closed, and the county would need to conduct a traffic impact analysis.
Napili resident Tamara Paltin said she was against any seawalls and suggested the county start moving utilities.
“The storms are getting worse and more frequent,” she said. “The sewage line busting and flowing into the ocean and all those residents without water or sewer – that’s a huge catastrophe that we should have the foresight to plan for.”
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