Creating a task force on parking enforcement, tackling social media influencers, and towing illegally parked vehicles were some of the simpler possible remedies mentioned on Monday to cope. “Health and security crisis” on the congested Hana highway.
“I understand that there is a lot of attention on this, that there is a realization that the road is fundamentally overcapacity and that there is something that needs to be done about it”, Hana resident Scott Crawford said at the Maui County Council’s Infrastructure and Transportation Committee meeting on Monday morning. “When the road is overcapacity and it is literally blocked off so emergency vehicles cannot pass, it is a safety crisis. If someone needs medical intervention in Keanae and the ambulance can’t get there, it’s a health and safety crisis. “
Emergency medical technician Kathleen Soule, who works at Medic 6 Hana station, told the committee that the “Extreme increase in the number of cars” caused delays for the only ambulance in East Maui, which is responsible for transporting patients to Maui Memorial Medical Center or responding to emergency calls in the community.
“There are many areas on the Hana highway where we are delayed due to cars not stopping or line cars” said Soule. “I also see a lot more tourists at Red Sand Beach who need to be rescued because they are wearing rubber slippers or don’t know how to handle the trail which is very dangerous which increases the risk. number of patients to be discharged. “
The council’s infrastructure and transport committee discussed the problems and possible solutions to deal with the congested highway on Monday.
“It was a lot of very good information”, said committee chairperson Yuki Lei Sugimura after the meeting.
No decision was scheduled for Monday. The committee is expected to discuss the matter again on July 22 and receive more information from Mayor Michael Victorino’s office and the state Department of Transportation.
Among the possible solutions discussed on Monday is training residents to help patrol the highway.
It can “Help to remove the pressure on the police force”, as well as increasing visitor education without criminalizing tourists, said Napua Hueu, of Hana Highway Regulation, a voluntary organization that aims to improve safety and efficiency on the road for visitors and residents.
Hueu and the committee also discussed the idea of reaching out to social media influencers who post or advertise trespassing on local access points, some of which are privately owned.
“A large majority of these illegal sites are promoted by influencers through social media, on various different apps and YouTube videos. sites that see injuries and deaths from routine visitors, and there is a significant need for more effort on the part of the owners themselves ”, said Hueu.
The towing of illegally parked vehicles was also mentioned, but the idea was seen by some officials as a safety hazard if people find themselves stranded in rural areas without transport or cell phone reception.
Restricting access to the federally funded national highway has also been considered, but this is not possible for a public highway, said Robin Shishido, Maui District Director at the state Department of Transportation. .
Shishido said the implementation of tolls has been discussed in the past on Oahu, but was denied. However, pursuing this idea for Hana Highway is “not impossible” and would just require a lot of work and consideration, he added.
Shishido said the typical capacity of a two-lane highway is around 1,000 cars per hour, but single-lane bridges, narrow bends and other factors “Affect capacity. “
This is the type of data the department is currently collecting for Hana Highway, he added.
Shishido said the department is working with county officials, the Hawaii Tourism Authority and rental car companies to put up posters and leaflets informing travelers about precautions to take when driving to. Hana, the charges and surcharges for illegal parking on the highway as well as where they can park. , plan ahead, and research public areas to visit.
About 70 signs along the road to Hana were recently installed to discourage illegal parking by warning of a fine of $ 35 for parking bans and a surcharge of $ 200 for stopping illegally on a national road.
“Regarding the signs, since they were installed my friends and I have seen an extremely alarming increase in the number of families walking on the road” said Mahealani Carbonello, a witness who travels on Hana Highway to Honomanu Bay to help with a law patch restoration project.
“It is extremely dangerous, there are small children, the elderly and it is narrow. There are blind turns so that’s a problem.
Between June 1 and June 23, Maui police issued 389 parking tickets and 83 offender warnings on the Hana Freeway between Haiku and the town of Hana, according to a press release from the county.
The majority of witnesses on Monday supported the idea of stricter enforcement, but Maui Police Captain Everett Ferreira said the department was operating with fewer officers. MPD spoke with the state sheriff’s department and the state’s land and natural resources department’s conservation and enforcement division to assist with enforcement in Hana.
“The chief’s office is aware of the situation in Hana and as mentioned by many speakers, we are overtaxed and we lack resources, but we are doing our best”,
said Ferreira. “They stop in a neighborhood, they quote or educate people and then they move on, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. By the time he solves it, but then he just comes back to where he was before. “
Mayor Michael Victorino recently met with airline executives to determine their willingness to voluntarily reduce air travel to Kahului Airport, according to a press release.
Victorino also met with MPD officials to discuss the possibility of establishing a category for parking enforcement officers. Another temporary solution may be to increase the effort with the County Park Rangers, but both options require an agreement with the unions representing the two groups.
* Dakota Grossman can be contacted at [email protected]