Tourists are back in force on the Hana Highway. Why not charge them? – Honolulu Hawaii

Last year, residents of East Maui saw a short rest from traffic for all visitors during a pandemic, which typically clogs the popular Hana Highway and interferes with everyday life.

What if the state authorities charged the visitor the actual toll instead of resolving the traffic problem permanently?

These visitors are definitely back in the hustle and bustle, part of the recent “Tourist Tsunami” He gripped Hawaii. More and more people are being vaccinated on the continent and around the world, and a year later, they are eager to resume their journey.

At this time of last year there were few arrivals at Valley Isle. Currently, it is backed up approximately 8,000 times per day. State data shows .. After that, traffic on the Hana Expressway (or the so-called Hana Highway) stagnated.

The people who live there feel beyond the edge.

“We are suffering even more (the trafficking) than before the pandemic. The locks are open, ”said Napua Hueu, a volunteer grassroots group organizer. Settlement on the road to Hana.

Hueu, a 33-year-old East Maui resident, said ten years ago that several sites along the legendary roads of about 65 miles and over 600 turns had never seen a visitor. I did. However, with the explosive growth of Instagram and other social media platforms, these sites have become very popular.

Hueu says East Maui is currently dealing with two separate construction projects along rural freeways where temporary traffic lights bundle cars together to create more traffic, in addition to the shock of revived tourism. Mentionned.

Hana highway parking
Cars are flooding the recently reopened parking lot at Kaumahina State Park after it was closed during a pandemic. There are 23 legitimate food stalls in the park, but over 40 cars are often parked during the summer. Courtesy: Hana Highway Regulations

One of these projects aims to repair the road after a heavy flooded rain near the haiku in March. Kaupakalua Dam overflow.

The East Maui community is used to accepting and welcoming large numbers of tourists, but “tensions are higher than ever,” Hueu said Friday. “The frustration has never been so intense.”

It usually takes about 2 hours from Hana to Wailuku in central Maui. Recently, she added, it is common for the trip to take four hours.

Sumner La Croix, a researcher and professor emeritus at the Economic Research Organization of the University of Hawaii, has proposed to impose a toll on rental cars on the Hana Freeway. Civil Beat Sign About last month’s traffic.

According to La Croix, when Hawaii emerges from the pandemic, it will be one of the simplest solutions that can help reduce traffic to neighboring islands and improve the lives of residents.

Due to the limited entrance to the motorway, this is a great place to pay tolls and can be recorded by transponders when the rental car is entering the motorway.

According to La Croix, charges for guests may be included in the rental agreement. He added that such tolls would carpool some visitors or encourage them to use van services instead, reducing the number of rental cars accessing narrow roads.

“There is technology for that… it’s not that difficult,” said La Croix. “We should think about it. “

Insufficient “no parking” sign

It’s unclear how much they considered it, as state transportation officials were unable to discuss the concept of fares late last week or Monday.

Hawaii Transportation Agency spokeswoman Sherry Kunishige said the agency was not authorized to apply tolls.

(I’ll be joining Ed Sniffen, deputy director of highways at HDOT later this week.)

According to state data, in 2019, before the pandemic, there were an average of about 1,900 daily trips on the Hana Highway.

However, Hueu said the idea of ​​creating tolls on the Hana Expressway and a reservation system for visitors to access the road began throughout his life.

From Hana Highway Road to Hana

She said both ideas would help. However, she added that neither addressed the main causes of traffic problems along the Hana Expressway. Visitors park illegally and set foot near unauthorized roads, causing bottlenecks and bottlenecks.

The worst place for this activity is Kailua, commonly known as bamboo forest. In a June 2018 regulatory investigation of the Hana Freeway, 2,700 cars were illegally parked and 960 were illegally parked in Kaihalulu or Red Sand Beach, the second worst place on the freeway. I discovered.

Hueu, who ran the local travel agency himself until the pandemic, said he would support tolls for visitors as long as the proceeds are used to deal with these major issues.

The Hana Expressway regulations propose the creation of a “Visitor Information Staff Unit” which educates locals in special uniforms who work at various places along the road where they can legally park and visit.

The grassroots group submitted a $ 500,000 proposal to the Maui County Economic Development Program as a six-month pilot program, Hueu said.

Placing such personnel on site, along with no-parking signs, will prevent people from parking on the road and causing congestion or traffic, according to an independent investigation into the regulation of the Hana Highway in the summer of 2018. go. It has been shown to be very effective in keeping people out of places they shouldn’t. For this application.

According to Hueu, the group’s first grant application for creating a program in 2019 was rejected and recently reapplied in fiscal year 2022.

Given a higher percentage of the temporary occupancy tax, she said the county could cover those costs. However, income from car rental tolls can also help fund it, Hueu added.

I also started the Hueu petition. is asking the county to temporarily limit freeway travel to residents and visitors who have booked to stay in the area. The petition requires 500 signatures, with 317 signatures Monday night.

“Various communities in East Maui are overwhelmed by increasing pressure. This petition aims to encourage the County of Maui and Hawaii to alleviate this unrest by adopting responsible management mechanisms for the visitor industry. Please help us sign the letter, ”the petition reads. ..

Local transport authorities need to be more creative about how to manage capacity, as roads, highways and bridges in the country’s only island state struggle to accommodate more and more cars. ..

Setting up tolls in areas where visitors are overwhelmed is a possible solution. As La Croix pointed out, the road to Hana, which has limited access points, is a great and simple place to make this idea come true.

Maui County Civil Beat coverage is partially funded by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

Tourists are back in force on the Hana Highway. Why not charge them? Source link Tourists are back in force on the Hana Highway. Why not charge them?

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