Saturday, September 24, 2011

Two Kinds of Roads in Rural Maui

Rough road surface in Upper Kula

There are mainly two kinds of roads in rural Maui: rough and bumpy or rougher and bumpier. There are some good patches of road that have been recently resurfaced, Kaluanui Road at the top of Maliko Gulch near Makawao, and Haiku Road coming up from Hana Highway. But mostly the roads are really bad with "choke" potholes (Choke means plenty in local pidgin.) In some recent national roads report, Hawaii ranked high in having a large percentage of really bad roads.  And a lot of them are on Maui.

It’s not just upcountry Haiku or Kula, but even parts of South Kihei. I know someone who blew out a tire coming down Kokomo Road from Makawao. It’s easy to do, coming down hill. Hopefully, that road is next in line to get repaved.

Bumpy Kokomo Road in Haiku

With the recent roadwork, maybe Auntie Mona of Makawao has finally gotten her message across to some politicians. At last year’s Fourth of July Parade in Makawao, she jumped up every time a candidate’s parade float or banner passed by. Since 2010 was an election year, there were a lot of candidates to confront.  If she liked the person, she would give him/her a big hug and express a big mahalo (Hawaiian for thank you) loudly in front of all the spectators.  Otherwise, she would accost each candidate with the same lines: “Hey, take care of us upcountry.  Take care of our roads!” Actually, Auntie Mona was more entertaining than the parade itself, and I missed seeing her this year.

Haiku Road getting a facelift.

Now, there are some roads that are just classically rough – much of hippy Huelo, the road from Hana to Kaupo, and parts of Waihee have these rough washboard roads, best for 4 wheel drive vehicles with a high ground clearance.  The newer fuel efficient cars have a lower ground clearance, which helps with fuel economy, but not with bad roads. Damaging the underside of a car can be costly – especially the catalytic converter and the crankcase which is part of the engine. The trick is to get the wheels lined up on the raised portions of the road, and on top of the rocks.  Easier said then done.

On the flip side, sometimes it’s good to have rough roads – it keeps those areas less developed and more rural. A lot of residents like it that way, but they have 4 wheel drive trucks.

For the rest of us though, it’s better to go slowly. As they say, “Just cruise.”  And watch out for potholes and rocks.

Just a reminder: "Slow Down."


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