Top 10 Spots for the Next Roundabout on Maui
Pleased with the instant popularity of its new roundabout on Piilani Highway in Kihei, the Hawaii Department of Transportation seeks suggestions for the best place to build the next new traffic circle on Maui.
“The Piilani Highway roundabout has only been open for weeks, and already everyone is talking about it,” said Grover Ohea, director of strategic planning for the DOT’s Maui office. “Especially people who depend on consistent flow of traffic down Kihei Road, or basically any commuter who has to drive every day to and from Kihei or Wailea. They seem super enthusiastic about their new roundabout!”
The DOT has set a deadline of March 1 for residents and visitors to submit ideas for where the department should build the next new roundabout on island. It could be anywhere, Ohea says.
He says his department will keep a running tally of ideas and votes, and release a weekly Top 10, kind of like they do with college sports.
Here are the standings for the preferred place for the next new roundabout on Maui, in reverse order (votes through Jan. 11):
Concept: Very large roundabout totally around the community, kind of like the first leg, that little bypass road that exists now from the public parking lot on Hana Highway connecting with Baldwin Road. Just imagine a way to drive all the way around Paia without getting stuck at the T signal!
Concept: Visitors complain that there’s little to do once you actually get to Hana, after surviving the road to get there, and not getting run off cliffs by local drivers. Suggested is a nice traffic circle in the middle, ringed with food trucks so every visitor must buy local.
8. Kihei Road (North and South)
Concept: At the famous Y that connects north and south Kihei Roads with Piilani Highway, a roundabout could hopefully ease the congestion that is caused mostly by the first new roundabout in Kihei, the one built on the busy Piilani Highway right next to a new high school.
7. Downtown Wailuku
Concept: For some reason, visitors seem to believe that traffic is a problem near the courthouse, when in fact parking is the biggest challenge. Nonetheless, the DOT has received a lot of votes for a roundabout at that weird cluster of Main Street, Lower Main Street, and Oihana Street.
6. Little Beach, Makena
Concept: Currently the only way looky-loos can peek at sunbathers is by hiking there directly from Big Beach, which is unpopular because other people can see you trying to sneak peeks at Little Beach sunbathers. Votes have been submitted for a significantly elevated roundabout, so motorists could look all they want from the privacy of their own cars by just driving in circles.
6. & 5. (Tie) Back Road to Hana, Nakalele Blowhole
Concept(s): Locals are learning that the new roundabout in Kihei serves as a deterrent for a lot of motorists to even try the route. So they propose building roundabouts each along the back (reverse) road to Hana, and also near the Nakalele Blowhole on Kahekili Highway, to shoo visitors away from even thinking about trying to drive those roads.
Concept: None provided. Some voters just wrote “Haleakala” and submitted it to the DOT, Ohea said. “We’re scratching our heads at that one,” he said.
3. Lahaina Bypass
Concept: It’s mass confusion coming off this bypass and down the Keawe Street extension into town, so voters want a traffic circle there when you approach Foodland Farms, with special attention to “make it easier to turn left there out of Walgreen’s.”
2. Big Beach, Makena
Concept: A brand new roundabout right on the sand to finally address the traffic and parking problems that have plagued the popular beach since the pandemic lockdowns ended. Some voters also suggest making it easier to drive up close and see Little Beach.
1. Barmuda Triangle, Kihei
Concept(s): Keep drunks leaving all the bars there confused, and stuck driving in circles, so they are easier for police to pull over before they trek elsewhere on island. Also, it would be easier to set up sobriety checkpoints right at the new traffic circle, either at the edge of Kalama Park, or near one of those weird tall, open flea market-like structures there across from the park. Lastly, some keen residents suggest playing the song “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive, on speakers from Kalama Park at volume Level 11 right when the bars close.