(BIVN) – The trip down the Waipiʻo Valley Access Road – a dangerous drive for unfamiliar visitors – could soon be more tightly regulated under a proposed bill moving through the Hawaiʻi State Legislature.
House Bill 529 HD1 “prohibits any vehicle, except a low-range, four-wheel drive vehicle, from being driven through or in Waipio Valley, except under certain circumstances.”
The bill has already passed through the State House and is now before the Senate Transportation Committee. The chair of that committee is Hawaiʻi Island Senator Lorraine Inouye.
A hearing was held on March 13, during which time Senator Inouye asked for input from the Office of the State Attorney General. Inouye has been in touch with the taro farmers in the valley, who tell her the inundation from tourists can be difficult on their way of life.
“I hesitate to pass something like this,” Senator Inouye said, because if the state is saying 4-wheel drive vehicles are allowed down in the valley, “it only encourages more people.”
“Personally, I want to – kind of – prohibit folks going down there,” the senator said. “Where can we limit people going down to the valley or restrict travel and maybe allow only those who are farmers, residents, that live there?”
“I actually did look at this bill very carefully,” said deputy attorney general Bill Wynhoff, “because there was concern at the attorney general’s office said it might be special legislation.”
Wynhoff added that since Waipiʻo Valley Access Road is a county road, “that does tend to make it more of a county problem.”
Inouye said “there are actually rules in place that simply don’t get enforced” on the County-side of things, “because the enforcement people are overwhelmed.” Many visitors are also willing to park their cars at the top of the Overlook and walk down into the valley, as well.
A decision on the bill is scheduled for March 20.