Maui County’s infrastructure is about to undergo major upgrades.

As Chair of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee of the Council and Board of Directors of the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization, I am grateful for the partnerships that make these improvements possible.

Council has the opportunity to approve Mayor Michael P. Victorino’s innovative proposal to work with real estate developer Mike Atherton on a partnership for a sewage treatment plant and road improvements in support of the Waikapu Country Town project.

With council support, 213 workforce units would be added to the project. Board approval of the Waikapu Country Town zoning three years ago supported 287 workforce housing units in the 500-acre project around Maui Tropical Plantation.

So the new total would be 500 workforce housing units, plus just over 1,000 market units in a mixed-use walkable community. In recommending zoning approval for the project, the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee Report 19-93 stated that Waikapu Country Town will be a “complete community”, providing “a mix of residential, retail and civic uses”, with the objectives of the project as “reducing residents’ commuting and encouraging active lifestyles through various transportation options and park spaces. »

But implementing this vision requires the passage of resolution 22-51 to authorize the mayor’s execution of an agreement with the developer. The county would help make infrastructure improvements in exchange for the additional housing units for the workforce.

The resolution will be heard by the Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Committee at 9 a.m. Thursday. Testimony instructions and other information are on the meeting agenda at

Another initiative that blends residential development and infrastructure improvements is the Ka’ahumanu Avenue Corridor, a project designed to make it easier to walk, bike, ride, play, shop and live on the artery connecting Kahului and Wailuku. As described by the Maui Bicycling League, this project is “an exciting initiative to develop affordable housing and new transportation options on Maui’s busiest corridor.”

There are two upcoming opportunities to learn more about the Ka’ahumanu Avenue Corridor. A virtual town hall at noon on Tuesday will highlight the proposed Ka’ahumanu Community Corridor Action Plan. Register at

At noon on Wednesday, the Hawaiian Chapter of the American Planning Association is hosting a virtual discussion about the project with Maui County’s long-range planner Pamela Eaton and Lauren Armstrong, executive director of the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization. Subscribe to this discussion at

Infrastructure projects like these require federal and state government partnerships. So I was pleased to get updates from U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and Ed Sniffen, Deputy Director of the State Department of Transportation, during my January 27 Infrastructure and Transportation Committee meeting.

Schatz, who chairs the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, provided an overview of Maui County’s benefits from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act — also known as the on Bipartisan Infrastructure – signed by President Biden on Nov. 15. Schatz told the committee that the law “will send at least $2.8 billion to the State of Hawaii to repair roads and bridges and, most importantly, to make it more resilient to climate change.”

The law supports “all modes of transport” Schatz said, what is “a significant policy shift from a completely car-centric approach to all modes of transport: bus, bicycle, people on foot.” He added, “It must be the Ministry of Transport, not the Ministry of Cars.”

Given the Board’s support for “Vision Zero” — the policy objective of eliminating road deaths — I was pleased to hear the honorable senator say that the act funds the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Schatz added that funding clean-energy school and transit buses and electric vehicle charging stations are major parts of the law.

Schatz praised the work of the State Department of Transportation on climate change adaptation, which provided a transition to Sniffen’s presentation. He highlighted state government partnerships with counties to make the most of federal transportation funds.

Highways will need to be developed and in some cases moved out of the area exposed to sea level rise, he noted. This effort shows the department’s focus on resilience.

Sniffen said efficiency and fairness in transportation decisions are equally important values. He said improving broadband connectivity through new federal funding can minimize demands on transportation systems, promote efficiency, while increasing economic opportunity, supporting equity.

* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chairman of the infrastructure and transport committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry Residence Area. “3 Minutes of the Council” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit for more information.

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