An emergency evacuation route has been completed in time for the reopening of three Lahaina schools: Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High.
The approximately 2.5-mile emergency route runs from the Lahainaluna fire lane to the Lahaina Bypass.
It was constructed by the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation at an approximate cost of $550,000 and needed use of private land, according to a state press release.
A second phase to add access points at Hoʻokahua Street and on Lahainaluna Road near the Bypass is currently under construction.
“The community stressed the importance of reopening for our Lahaina keiki,” Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green said in the press release. “Having a mass evacuation route available hopefully will provide reassurance to students, parents, caregivers, and West Maui faculty and staff.”
Hawaiʻi State Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi said the emergency route is being incorporated into the school action plans to ensure the campuses are prepared should a mass evacuation of the area be necessary.
School officials, and staff of the Maui Police Department, the Maui Fire Department and the Hawaiʻi Department of transporation, have keys for the gates to the emergency access route .
The Lahaina campuses reopened to staff on Oct. 6. Students are scheduled to return after fall break: Lahainaluna students will return Oct. 16, Lahaina Intermediate on Oct. 17, and King Kamehameha III and Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena Elementary on Oct. 18.
Students and staff from King Kamehameha III will be sharing campus facilities with Nāhi‘ena‘ena until a temporary school site at Pulelehua near Kapalua Airport opens. High-quality tent structures have been installed at Nāhi‘ena‘ena to add classroom spaces that are equipped with air conditioning and wooden floors.