S.R. NO.



S.D. 1













     WHEREAS, the safety of the public is of paramount concern to the Legislature, and the quality of roadway maintenance has a direct impact on the safety of individuals operating motor vehicles and on ensuring continuous access between remote locations; and


     WHEREAS, there has been a long-standing dispute over the ownership of "roads in limbo" or "government roads" located in Maui County and the other counties; and


     WHEREAS, the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) produced Report No. 11, 1989, entitled "Roads in Limbo: An Analysis of the State-County Jurisdictional Dispute" which found, among other things, "There is a considerable and uncatalogued number of public highways in the State whose ownership, as between the State and the counties, is in dispute, as the State holds

paper title to these roads but contends that ownership of these roads has passed to the counties by operation of law"; and


     WHEREAS, according to the LRB report, the standoff on maintenance of roads in limbo has "the practical effect of leaving a significant number of roads in all four counties in substandard conditions and without routine maintenance because no government body will accept responsibility for them"; and


     WHEREAS, the LRB report stated in pertinent part the position of Maui County:  "The Maui County Department of the Corporation Counsel takes issue with the way in which the division of public highways into state and county highways occurs" and "Maui's position is that the source of the DOT's authority is to place certain roads on or off its list is unclear" (sic); and


     WHEREAS, the LRB report further stated that "No comprehensive lists of these disputed roads exist because neither the State nor the individual counties will take the responsibility of cataloguing them"; and


     WHEREAS, regardless of whether the State or the County has the superior legal authority to determine which roads are legally owned by either, the subject roads continue to deteriorate as the years go by, which has been the case for decades; and


     WHEREAS, a recent news article, "East Maui community cut off after heavy rains wash out bridge" describes the situation as, "The recent heavy rains damaged a bridge that serves as a lifeline for dozens of residents.  Now a rural community in East Maui has been cut off from the outside world.  The Hanawana Land Bridge was built about 100 years ago off Hana Highway.  Part of it collapsed into a river during the severe weather more than a week ago. Roughly 40 residents are now stranded"; and


     WHEREAS, the collapse of the Hanawana Land Bridge, one of the roads in limbo, meant that people could not get to work; and


     WHEREAS, due to the exemplary efforts of the County of Maui on March 27, 2012, the rebuilding of Hanawana Land Bridge commenced; and


     WHEREAS, the state and county governments have a responsibility to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, which includes the adequate maintenance of roads and bridges, particularly those located in rural communities; and


     WHEREAS, the formation of a working group to bring together state and county departments is a practical and expedient way to resolve the issue of ownership of roads in limbo, including separation of ownership and maintenance issues; now, therefore,


     BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-sixth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2012, that the Department of Transportation is requested to form a working group to expeditiously resolve the issue of roads in limbo in Maui County for the greater good of the residents of Maui; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group be composed of the following members:


     (1)  The Director of Transportation, or designee;


     (2)  The Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, or designee;


     (3)  The Mayor of Maui County, or designee; and


     (4)  The Director of the Maui County Department of Public Works, or designee; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Transportation submit to the Legislature, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2013, a report of the findings and recommendations of the working group, including any proposed legislation; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the Director of Transportation, Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Mayor of Maui County, and Director of the Maui County Department of Public Works.

Report Title: 

Roads In Limbo; Maui Working Group