Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most recently asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: Why is it that so many of the “Ask the Mayor” questions are about State issues and projects? Shouldn’t you stick to answering County-related topics?
A: Aloha and thank you for your question. When we began this column we knew that we would receive some questions about topics that were outside of our County jurisdiction, but we never expected so many State issues. The reality is that the average person may not know which services/roads/facilities/programs are provided or maintained by the State, and which are handled by the County. In some cases there is overlap, such as with the air ambulance, which is a County-funded State service, or County lifeguards at the State-operated Makena Beach. So it is reasonable to expect that folks often don’t know who to ask – or who to blame. We receive many questions about state roads and highways, and about issues that are handled by various state departments such as health, agriculture and land and natural resources. However, oftentimes we provide a response to these questions because they have a wide impact in our community, and the column provides an opportunity to help educate people about the different responsibilities of State and County government. Counties are usually in charge of local infrastructure and day-to-day operations of a community, such as police, fire, trash pick-up, sewer, water and County roads. Everything else usually falls to the State and/or Federal government, including State roadways between towns and roads that service transportation centers such as airports and harbors. If you have a State concern, you can contact any state department directly, or you contact the Governor or Lieutenant Governor’s offices as well. Since our Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui was born and raised on Maui, he can be a good point of contact for our local residents. In the meantime, we will continue to do our best to answer questions that have a wide impact in our community. Thank you for reading!
Q: I was curious as to why the speed limit going up Haleakala Hwy is 55 mph all the way up to Haliimaile and going down it is 45 mph? I completely understand the crossroads in the cane fields, but those roads are rarely used. A lot of locals around Maui say it is to keep the auto shops in business, due to excessive brake usage and to keep law enforcement busy. Some, former law enforcement, say the County does not want to pay to have the signs changed, same with Mokulele as well. Myself and others would like to know the reasoning behind it please. Thank you for your time, sir.
A: Haleakala Highway is a state highway and according to the State DOT, the downhill 45 mph speed limit is set to ensure highway safety. Vehicles traveling at a higher rate of speed with downhill momentum have less reaction time and require far greater stopping distances in the event of an emergency stop versus vehicles traveling up the slope. As speed increases for vehicles traveling downhill, the severity of a head-on collision or impact with a static object is increased as well, reducing survivability. This stretch of Haleakala Highway, from Makani Drive to Keahua Road, drops in elevation from 1,550 to 590 feet in only 3.6 miles, during which there are three signalized intersections, a shoulder used by bicyclists, a deer crossing and eight truck crossings that are still used by heavy commercial vehicles. Past the Keahua Road intersection where the downhill slope is not as steep, the speed limit increases to 55 mph. Motorists are asked to drive responsibly and to follow the posted speed limits to ensure that everyone on our roads stays safe.
Q: I’ve been seeing a lot more people driving with their headlights off at dusk when the sun sets. What does the law require when driving without headlights?
A: Maui County Code Chapter 10.20.020, which mirrors Section 291-25 of the Hawaii Revised Statues (HRS), states that “every vehicle upon a highway within this county at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise [….] shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices.” Headlights must also be used during times when, “due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of five hundred feet ahead.” A violation may result in a fine of $47, as set by the HRS. Alternate lighting in lieu of headlights is allowed, provided it is capable of revealing persons and objects 75 feet ahead and that “at no time shall [the motor vehicle] be operated at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour” (10.20.030). While it’s true that some folks may simply forget or think their lights were already on, others may be driving under the influence. Because of this, drivers should not hesitate to call for police service should they notice a car or motorcycle being driven without headlights.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.