Dust Screens Erected Following Wildfires

Vehicles pass a portion of the dust screen erected in Lāhainā in August.     PHOTO COURTESY HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

In a move aimed at enhancing road safety in the wake of last month’s wildfires in Lāhainā, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is spending more than $2 million to install a 30,000-linear-foot dust screen along two roadways on Maui.

Workers began to install the screen along Honoapi‘ilani Highway (Route 30) and the Lāhainā Bypass (Route 3000) on Aug. 16. The project is expected to be completed within a month.

“Once the road opened up, we saw a lot of users coming along the highway where [we’re] seeing vehicles or people walking and knowing all the dust can contain a lot of hazardous materials,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Robin Shishido in a news release. “[So] when any wind comes up, we want to make sure they’re protected.”

Funded by a $3 million quick-release Emergency Relief grant from the Federal Highway Administration aimed to help maintain safe access routes for residents of West Maui, the dust screen will span more than five miles at an estimated cost of $2.4 million.

The screens are designed to reduce hazards related to poor visibility and air quality and will remain in place as long as they are needed, managed by HDOT maintenance crews. This safety measure is part of a larger, multi-agency effort to sustain infrastructure in Lāhainā, involving federal, state and Maui County agencies as well as volunteers.

“Ultimately, everything we’re looking at is almost 30,000 linear feet and will cover both sides of Honoapi‘ilani Highway through this area, and also going generally around the whole burn area perimeter,” said Shishido. “We anticipate this fence will probably be up at least a year or so.”

Maui County officials have also instituted nightly access limitations on Honoapi‘ilani Highway. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, only residents of West Maui, first responders and local employees are allowed entry.

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