WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa became the first to roll out on the new Kihei Bikeway Project Friday.
After cutting the maile lei during this morning’s ceremony at the corner of Liloa Drive and Piikea Avenue, Mayor Arakawa rode a borrowed bicycle over the first 50 yards of the bikeway. He was followed by a small group of bike riders who also wanted to try out the path, which covers a little less than a mile from East Waipuilani Road to East Lipoa Street.
Speaking to the crowd beforehand the Mayor said that this project was the start of others that would create a healthier environment for local families around the County.
“Let’s build a healthier Maui,” said Mayor Arakawa. “One that we want our children to live in.”
The County actually held two ceremonies today, both projects which connect with one another. Groundbreaking on the Kihei Roundabout project is also set to begin on August 1st.
The roundabout at the intersection of Liloa and Piikea once complete will become a part of the Kihei Bikeway. The roundabout is expected to improve traffic and pedestrian safety in the area.
“Everyone will want one,” said Maui County Council member Don Couch. “Go back to your community and say, ‘Where’s ours?’”
The Kihei Bikeway took about three and a half years to complete and cost an estimated $2.9 million, which includes night time lighting along the path. The roundabout project is estimated to cost $1.9 million and will take about 270 days to complete construction.
“This project (the bikeway) took way too long,” said Public Works Director David Goode. “As long as I’m in office projects will not take this long.”
Former Gov. Linda Lingle suggested today that she would fit well within a group of former governors in the U.S. Senate and would take a bipartisan approach to the nation’s challenges.
“Governors bring a particularly different approach in the United States Senate than those people who have come just from the legislative side,” Lingle, who is considering a Senate campaign, told a luncheon sponsored by the conservative Grassroot Institute of Hawaii at the Japanese Cultural Center.
“They are less ideological. They are more practical. They are more agenda driven. They are able to put forth something they’d like to achieve and then move to do it because as governor you have to. You can’t hide behind a lot of other people.”
Lingle — who serves on the governor’s council of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a public-policy group in Washington, D.C., founded by former Senate leaders — said she spoke with several former governors who are now in the Senate during a recent trip to the nation’s capital.
The Republican referred, as an example, to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a former governor who is part of the “Gang of Six,” a bipartisan group behind a deficit-reduction plan.
“So the idea of bipartisanship is an important one and indeed is the only way for our country to move forward,” she said.
Lingle, who had indicated she would announce her Senate intentions by August, has pushed her timetable into the fall. U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is not seeking another term in 2012. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and former congressman Ed Case are running in the Democratic primary.
Lingle has started to position herself closer to the center politically after campaigning for conservatives such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008 — and making unflattering remarks about Hawaii-born President Barack Obama. She would likely need to draw overwhelming support among independents and a healthy share of moderate Democrats to compete in 2012.
Lingle not only has to contend with the Democratic nominee in a traditionally Democratic state, but also with Obama, who will be up for re-election and has high job approval ratings in the islands.
In an interview at the state GOP convention on Kauai in May, and again at the luncheon today, Lingle explained how she shares similar views with Obama on critical issues such as renewable energy and education.
Case, who attended the luncheon, has for years described himself as a moderate who would have common ground with the centrists of the Senate. He said he agrees with Lingle that a bipartisan approach is necessary.
“I think we’re on the same page on that,” he said. “She’s certainly testing it out and getting her rhythm going on it.”
Lingle, whose speech focused on education, repeated her support for local school boards, charter schools, and science, technology, engineering and math education.
She recommended a pilot project where parents of students with special needs would receive vouchers for private schools, which she believes would help the students succeed and create a market for new private schools.
She also endorsed financial incentives for teachers who teach difficult subjects or work in low-income regions where schools are struggling.
She said she and Obama agree on issues such as promoting charter schools, merit-based pay for teachers, and closing poorly performing schools.
“You might be surprised to know that President Obama and I share a lot of the same views in the area of education,” she said, adding that politicians should be able to agree on specific ideas even if they differ on ideology.
Lingle said the contract dispute between Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii State Teachers Association could undermine the state’s ability to deliver on the school improvements promised as part of a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant.
She said the teachers union has sought to protect the status quo and questioned why teachers have to pay mandatory union dues. She said the teachers union would not have as much influence politically without the dues income.
“Take another look at this idea of mandatory teacher union membership,” she said. “Let teachers make that decision for themselves. We’re talking about choice for children, let’s have choice for teachers as well.”
Lahaina, Maui, HI—July 29, 2011—AAAAA Rent-A-Space, a storage facility and commercial center in Honokowai, today announced it has begun construction on the largest commercial photovoltaic power generation system in Maui County. The 600-kilowatt system will contribute to the state’s “feed-in tariff” program, with the capacity to feed 2880 kilowatt-hours into the island’s electrical grid each day, enough clean, renewable energy to power up to 220 Maui homes.
AAAAA Rent-A-Space will also install a “Level 2” electric vehicle charging station, affording the public one of the fastest vehicle charges available.
Haleakala Solar began construction on the system in June. Completion is expected in September.
“Our family has done business in the Maui community for almost three decades,” said Michael Knuppe, co-owner of AAAAA Rent-A-Space. “We feel we have an obligation to be good stewards of the island and take the role of being positive, progressive members of the community very seriously. This project provides clean, quantifiable benefits to our center’s merchants, our community, and Hawaii as a whole.”
Once completed, the project will support the Hawaiian Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to have 70 percent of the state’s energy for electricity and ground transportation come from clean energy by 2030.
“Maui Electric is pleased to partner with AAAAA Rent-A-Space in embracing renewable energy and bringing our state closer to realizing our clean energy goals,” said Maui Electric Company’s president Ed Reinhardt. “We recognize that weaning our state from imported oil will require a diverse portfolio of clean energy sources and this project is yet another step in the right direction for Maui.”
SYDNEY » A strong earthquake has struck off the coast of the Pacific island nation of Fiji. There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning has been issued.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.6-magnitude quake struck Friday at 7:42 a.m. in Fiji (9:42 p.m. Thursday night Hawaii time) about 390 miles south of the capital Suva at a depth of 328 miles.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach did not issue a tsunami warning.
Earthquakes occur regularly in the South Pacific, where several tectonic plates converge.
WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The Department of Parks and Recreation announced the temporary closure of two county playgrounds.
The Wailuku Heights playground will be closed on Wednesday, August 3, and Thursday August 4, for the installation of a new chain climber. The playground will be fenced off during the closure period. For more information call 270-806
The entire Keopuolani playground will be closed for repair and replacement work on Wednesday, August 3, from 7am to 5pm and again on Thursday, August 4, from 7am – 5pm. For more information call 270-7232.
The community is asked to not enter either playground during those times for safety reasons.
WAILUKU, Hawaii – Safety and related concerns at the Wharf Cinema Center bus stop will be the focal points of the Maui County Council’s Infrastructure Management Committee site inspection in Lahaina on Monday at 9:45 a.m., Committee Chair Elle Cochran announced today.
Cochran also said that at least some Council members will travel to the site inspection from the County Building in Wailuku on public transportation. The committee’s oversight responsibilities include the Department of Transportation (DOT), which manages the Maui Bus.
As an initial response to concerns raised by Lahaina residents, the County Department of Transportation has proposed that the one-way traffic flow along Luakini Street be reversed. Traffic currently travels in a northerly direction from Prison Street to Dickenson Street. The County DOT, Police Department and Traffic Safety Council support a change to a southerly flow, Cochran said.
Current traffic flow does not allow for exiting the bus on the sidewalk at the Wharf Cinema Center. Cochran emphasized that the proposal to reverse the traffic flow is just one option under consideration and that moving the bus stop could also be considered.
“I look forward to utilizing the Maui Bus and am encouraging my colleagues to consider taking the bus to the site inspection as well,” Cochran said. “This will enable the members to conduct their committee business while at the same time directly participating in this public transportation system that the County has worked so hard to support.”
Cochran noted that Monday’s site inspection will be followed by a decision-making meeting at a later date in the Council Chamber.
The site inspection is open to the public. Meeting agendas are available on the Infrastructure Management Committee website. To receive meeting agendas via e-mail, please complete the on-line subscription form on the County website atwww.mauicounty.gov. For more information, please contact the Infrastructure Management Committee staff.
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