Maui County Ups the Ante with More Safety Cones in Ahihi Cove Erosion Battle


County of Maui officials have increased the number of orange rubber safety cones adjacent to Ahihi Cove in Makena as part of its ongoing effort to prevent cars and motorcycles from slipping into the water.

On Makena Road at the Cove, county officials added two more safety cones, so now eight orange rubber cones help protect motorists and passersby from venturing too close to the road’s edge which is deteriorating due to erosion.

“Weeks ago we acknowledged that Makena Road was being jeopardized by erosion, by placing six safety cones atop the edge portion of the road which appears to be sliding into the cove, " said Jonah Alanui of the county’s Public Works Department. “Well, it wasn’t enough. So we feel more comfortable now, applying a couple more orange rubber cones to the area in question.”

Winter storms, tropical moisture, and glaring sunshine contribute to the swift deterioration of road surfaces on island, Alanui said. Coupled with suspected rising ocean levels attributed to climate change, all these factors have threatened the coastline in many places on the Valley Isle, she said.

“All of our major Hawaiian islands suffer to one extent or another from coastline erosion,” Alanui said. “But Maui has it the worst.”

Evidence is becoming more and more visible. In April 2021, for instance, Maui Insight reported on what may have been the largest sandbags ever deployed, at a coastline restoration project in Maalaea.

Now, the popular Makena Road, and its connection with the Ahihi-Kinau Marine Preserve, Cape Kinau, and the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve is threatened by soil slipping into the ocean at Ahihi Cove.

“Makena Road is still passable, as I said earlier, but the cones will be effective only for so long,” said Makena resident Steven Tyler. “I hope county transportation gurus have more up their sleeves to get a more permanent solution there.

“I hope it doesn’t take a vehicle falling into the cove for real action to be taken. If they think the cones are permanent, they can dream on. Even people who park close by will not be able to walk this way."

Earlier this month, citing extraordinary demand, Maui county officials announced they have tripled the number of safety cones for use on island roadways.

On top of an excessive number of potholes, county officials pointed to erosion along coastal areas, and lack of adequate parking in residential neighborhoods, for the boost in safety cone demand.

“The huge number of cones in residential areas like Kahului, that’s not something the government can address, really. There’s just too many people with cars living in some of those houses,” Alanui said. “But the potholes and spots of coastal erosion, we can address in the short term with extra safety cones.”

Photos courtesy of Robin S. Knox

Alanui said her department has made county administrators aware of the need for additional funding for roadway improvement projects come budget deliberations set to start in the spring.

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Thank goodness Alanui is on the job! I heard even Bezos is in on it
“Maui is our number one safety cone account!” They helped
me buy my house by buying 1 million safety cones at $100 each “
” I would say my Helicopter chauffeur finds it distracting but how can I complain when it pays for all of my fuel and property taxes “

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