The Road to Hana Just Got More Dangerous:
All About Maui’s New Road to Hana Construction Project
The Road to Hana is a narrow, curving highway that snakes from Central Maui to Hana— a rural town on Maui’s eastern coast. For visitors, the drive is one of the island’s most in-demand attractions, lauded for its many waterfalls, hikes, and sightseeing. But for residents, the road is a lifeline to grocery stores, jobs, school, and medical assistance.
East Maui citizens have long expressed concerns about overcrowding on the road, citing safety and quality of life issues. After years of deliberation by the state, a solution is finally on the horizon.
The plan is to construct a new road above Hana Highway for visitor use, leaving the original highway for residents only. The 401 million dollar project has been dubbed “Hana ‘Elua,” or Hana Two. The highway will split past Twin Falls, and Hana Elua will head mauka before eventually rejoining Hana Highway near Waianapanapa State Park.
“Hana Highway has been over capacity for years, and the wear and tear is going to cost a fortune in the long run. We had to do something, and this just seemed like the easiest, most direct way,” says state official Bill Loni. “We think Hana Elua will be mutually beneficial for both residents and visitors. Residents will be able to travel Hana Highway freely to easily get to doctor appointments, school, and work. And Hana Elua will provide a more authentic experience for our visitors.”
Moe Ron, head of the project, says that the goal is to complete the road in the least impactful way possible. “When the original road to Hana was built, they blasted through the mountains with dynamite. We didn’t want to do that.” Instead, Moe Ron is taking a different approach.
“Yeah, we’re kind of making it up as we go along,” Ron says with a laugh. “Unfortunately, it’s led to a lot of dead ends and drop-offs. I’m not sure how much funds we have for guardrails, so drivers are going to have to pay close attention to signage.”
Since Moe Ron’s construction team can’t alter the landscape with dynamite, they have to align the road to the mountainous terrain. As a result, Hana Elua is forecast to feature roughly 1,200 curves— nearly double that of Hana Highway— and add an extra 35 miles to the drive. These changes don’t faze Moe Ron. “The Road to Hana is about the journey, not the destination, right?” he says with a shrug.
Hana Elua is slated to open next September, but some transportation officials question the likelihood of the project’s completion. “There’s just no way,” says Kent C. Straight, interim-representative-in-training for the department of transportation. “It’s looking like the last five miles of the road will be too narrow to accommodate cars, but it’s impossible to say at this time. We’re trying not to get too discouraged yet; I’ve been floating the idea of guided mule tours to get visitors past the last five miles, and it’s been really well received.”
Despite no environmental impact studies and zero research on resident and visitor sentiment, Bill Loni is confident the road will be a hit. “The modern traveler seeks authentic experiences, and we want to keep up with the times, you know, keep Hawaii a relevant destination. Hana Elua is as authentic as it gets.” Loni says with a grin. “Yes, some sections will be one-lane, narrow cliffside roads without railing, but it adds to the excitement! The road will be similar to the route people took to get to East Maui before Hana Highway was even built, with mule trails and all.”
To promote awareness for the project, the state is providing a stimulus for business owners to change their “I survived the Road to Hana” merchandise to “I survived Hana Elua”— a statement that, should the project be completed, will carry far more meaning.
And in case you’re not clued in yet,
Now that you know this is false, we do have a real problem along the Road to Hana. Too many vehicles are on the road each day, too little education of tourists, too many people getting hurt, and too much pressure on the Hana community. We need to come up with some solutions. Please share some in the comments below, and please be nice.
You certainly got me with the April fools ending.That being said IMO it’s too late the save the Road To Hana memories that I have from 40 years ago living in a treehouse. Social media sites have ,again IMO ruined the peacefulness and solitude that the Hana experience once was 🥲🥲
I disagree. Never too late. If they restricted tourist traffic to a certain number of cars per day on a reservation system, and if they encouraged using tour vans instead of individual cars, traffic and impact would be far less. And if they were on permitted Road to Hana tours instead of driving themselves, then it’d be safer and visitors wouldn’t go to dangerous or kapu spots.
We were there in February and did a short stint to Ke’anae. The problem is that instead of enlarging the different stopping points along the way they’ve been removed. There are now only no parking signs for the most part. So sad.
We never had enough time (or car insurance) when visiting, to drive all the way around and back again and even though “rumor has it” the south road is getting a tad hazardous, finishing it all the way around would not be a bad idea if only to even out the traffic flow, coming and going into Hana.