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Posted on: May 23, 2023

Resident impacts of road closure sought; visitors urged to avoid individual trips to East Maui

Residents impacted by the emergency closure of Hāna Highway between Alalele and Lelekea bridges near Kīpahulu are asked to report impacts and needs for assistance. 


Meanwhile, tourism industry officials are asking visitors to help curb traffic congestion by choosing group tours instead of driving individually to Hāna.


“Out of the respect for the Hāna community, it is recommended to experience the road to Hana through a guided tour and not to drive it on your own,” said Janet Kuwahara, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau senior manager of operations. “This is the only accessibility for the Hāna community, they depend on Hāna Highway for access to work, supplies, emergency services, etc. Your kōkua and sensitivity is appreciated until the road repairs are completed between Kīpahulu and Kaupo and is open and safe to travel.” 


East Maui, Kaupo and Kanaio residents affected by the closure should report impacts through the Maui Emergency Management Agency online form to help determine the extent of impact and identify people in need of assistance. The form can be found at


Details of community meetings with County of Maui officials in Kīpahulu and in Kaupo will be announced soon.


Recent rockfalls forced the roughly one-mile closure of Hāna Highway from Alelele to Lelekea bridges on May 10 after an engineering expert deemed the area unsafe. The remote, narrow roadway connects Kīpahulu and Kaupo. If motorists approach the closure from either Hāna / Kīpahulu or from Kaupo / Kanaio, they must U-turn and return the way they came. 


Emergency stabilization efforts are under way. Area scoping using drones and other technology are occurring now. Proposals from contractors have been solicited, and selection will follow the May 30 deadline for proposals. On-site rock scaling and other slope stabilization work is expected to start by June 5 and take three weeks. 


The location is considered dangerous, with two deaths documented years ago due to rockfalls in the area. People are urged against bypassing cement barriers to traverse the road.


In 2004, a Kīpahulu national park ranger was killed in the area after a 3-foot boulder struck her when she stopped to clear rocks from the roadway.   


In 2006, a Hāna resident was resting near Lelekea stream after a hike when he was crushed and killed by a 2,500-pound boulder.

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