Commentary – “The Coupe Family Single-Handedly Held Up the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass for 11 Years”

The acquisition the of right of way for highway projects is an ongoing issue for the State and County of Hawaii it seems.  Two projects come to mind; the second phase of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass and the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Inouye Highway Photo by Aaron Stene

Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Coupe family single-handedly held up the Mamalahoa  Highway bypass for 11 years. They fought the condemnation of  1,500 feet of their property all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Coupe’s petition, which ended their battle and paved the way for the county to acquire the necessary right of way for this much-needed highway.

I’m deeply concerned the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is facing the same fate. Three holdout landowners (Marvin Arruda, Richard Alderson and Rick Towill) refuse to convey part of their lands for this 5.7 mile highway. These parcels are located on the Puna side of the Puainako Street Extension and Country Club Drive.

I’ve tried to ask the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s office where things stand with the right of way acquisition for this phase, but they refuse to acknowledge my e-mails and hide behind attorney-client privilege.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation response to my inquiries isn’t much better.

The final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is currently unfunded.  I firmly believe its important to finalize the right of way acquisition, so this phase is shovel ready when funding is available.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

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