Friday, July 12, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, July 30, 2023
Getting Kids to School in Kihei
By Tom Yamachika @ 6:00 AM :: 2516 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12

Getting Kids to School in Kihei

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

Let’s start with a simple proposition. Taxpayers pay our government to get things done. Taxpayers don’t pay our government agencies to fight each other so that nothing gets done.

We focus this week on Kihei, Maui, where our Department of Education (DOE) has been trying to open a new, $245 million, high school primarily for Kihei. It’s called Kulanihakoi High School. It’s built, and has been built for some time, but it can’t open.

Why? Lots of families live makai of Piilani Highway (which is a busy, four lane highway) around Kulanihakoi Street. The school was built mauka of Piilani Highway. To get to the school, kids now have to cross the highway. Concerns about the safety of having kids compete with cars here prompted the State Land Use Commission to conclude, ten years ago, that a “grade-separated crossing,” like an overpass or an underpass, needed to be built.

Over the years, DOE appeared to go along with the requirement. In early 2020, when it approached Maui County for permits, it said that the design of the pedestrian overpass was already started and projected for it to be built in 2022 and 2023.

But in 2021, DOE did an about-face. Instead, it went back to the Land Use Commission to ask it to change its previous order to allow it to open the school without a pedestrian crossing, citing studies (paid for by guess who) presumably showing that the pedestrian crossing was not needed. This attracted objections and demonstrations from the public, and the Commission denied the DOE’s request.

At the same time, the DOE and the Department of Transportation spent $16 million on a four-lane roundabout with flashing lights in front of the school to slow traffic down and thereby eliminate (in DOE’s mind, perhaps) the need for an overpass. County officials were skeptical and arranged a meeting in late August 2022 with council members and other community members. No one from the DOE showed up to the meeting, however.

In February 2023, DOE seemed to accede to the overpass, presenting some rough sketches to the community. The agency said it would ask the Legislature for emergency funding to build the overpass. Sen. Angus McKelvey, who represents the area, said that he added $15 million for the project in the Senate’s draft of the plan, but that funding didn’t make it into the state budget. It isn’t clear why the funding request was deleted; perhaps it was because that wouldn’t be enough. The Governor’s Office issued a release saying that its construction would cost more than $25 million.

In March, Gov. Green announced that the state and county governments had reached a deal allowing the school to open in exchange for requiring the DOE to implement a temporary pedestrian safety plan, including shuttles for students walking to and from school, until the new pedestrian overpass is completed. The school is now slated to open in August.

Let me now ask this question: If the DOE had listened to the Land Use Commission ten years ago and had not put tons of resources into studies and legal briefs trying to get the Commission to change its mind, how many millions of taxpayer dollars could have been saved – by the DOE, the Department Transportation, Maui County government, and even the Governor’s Office?


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii