Clever Thieves Swap in Old Beaters to Replace New Erosion-Flagging Cones at Ahihi Cove


County of Maui officials are perplexed that their scheme to protect motorists at Ahihi Cove ~ with a whole bunch of new orange safety cones ~ has been thwarted by cunning thieves who simply swapped in a couple of old used cones at the popular spot in Makena.

Just last month Maui County announced placement of six safety cones in a spot where erosion is taking a portion of the west side of the road. A week later officials announced an increase in the new cones at Ahihi, to eight, or a 33% increase.

Last week, Maui residents familiar with the site expressed dismay when they saw only two old worn-out cones where the county’s pack of bright orange cones once stood guard.

“Cone rustlers, making profits off of the cone black market due to high demand and limited supplies,” surmised Robin S. Knox of Kihei.

Makena resident Steven Tyler has been urging more permanent action on the erosion than just dropping rubber cones atop the road damage.

“We all need to come together with a better solution,” Tyler said. “It’s scary for people who walk this way. It’s time for someone to draw the line.”

County officials also expressed frustration with the latest setback on the southern portion of Makena Road.

Winter storms, tropical moisture, and glaring sunshine contribute to the faster-than-usual deterioration of road surfaces on island, said Jonah Alanui of the county’s Public Works Department.

“The cones were meant as a temporary, precautionary measure,” Alanui said, “and were never imagined as a lasting solution.

CONE WARRIORS: What the county's precautionary action on Makena Road at Ahihi Cove looked like before troublemakers took them and left just a pair of beaten-up used safety cones. (Photos courtesy of Robin S. Knox)

“We were hoping to get into the season for county budget deliberations to see if we could find funding for needed repairs and protection of the coastline in the cove. And now some rascals stole all the new cones and forced us to have more meetings to decide what to do in the short-term.”

Due to suspected rising ocean levels attributed to climate change, Maui coastlines have been threatened more so than beaches on other islands, officials said.

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 on Earth, at a coastline restoration project in Maalaea.

Meanwhile, officials foresee an ongoing high demand for orange rubber safety cones on island.

“On top of a whole lot of potholes, we also have entire neighborhoods with inadequate parking space, and residents tend to turn to safety cones to protect spots in front of their house," Alanui said. 

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