White Paint Shortage on Maui Worries Transportation Officials

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State transportation officials are voicing concerns about an island-wide shortage of white paint, driven by demand from big projects like the new Kihei roundabout and constant rebuilding of roads washed out by storms.

"If they build another traffic circle on Maui, we may have to go with another color for the lines and shapes on roads," said Horacio Po'ai, forward planner for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, which oversees the Piilani Highway roundabout project that's in its final stages. "We're thinking a pearl white, or maybe eggshell."

The Kihei highway roundabout opened this week to traffic, though not all side-street access lanes are opened.

As state crews continue final touches, Po'ai said traffic engineers are closely watching the crosswalks since a new high school was built immediately adjacent to the intersection that thousands of teenagers will depend upon daily.

"Some of our traffic -counters have concerns for the crosswalks, which already are showing signs of fading from cars driving over it while construction continued," Po'ai said. "We might have to close lanes periodically to repaint those crosswalks, and that needs a lot of white paint. And orange rubber cones."

Local paint retailers are researching why the island suddenly is running short of white paint.

"We have some suspicions, like the big resorts in Wailea that paint their rubber traffic safety cones white for whatever reason," said Jared Akamai, assistant manager for the Lowe's in Kahului. "They use a lot of cones there, but we're unsure how much that actually contributes to the demand for white paint."

At press time, police were responding to reports of a car stuck going in circles on the new Kihei roundabout for the past 2 hours.

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