CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The lower, or makai, viewing platform will be demolished, and the stairs that lead to it will be taken out, as part of a planned $1.13 million renovation of Halona Blowhole. Shown here yesterday are rusty barriers and gates blocking access. CLICK FOR LARGE
$1.13M fix-up is planned for Halona Blowhole
The popular tourist stop will be upgraded for safety, aesthetics
STORY SUMMARY »
The Halona Blowhole -- one of Oahu's most popular quick-stop tourist attractions -- is to get a $1.13 million makeover next year.
The upper observation deck will be repaired and enhanced, city officials said. The lower observation deck, which has been closed to try and keep people from approaching the blowhole for safety reasons, will be demolished, and the area will be restored to a natural appearance.
The parking lot will keep the same number of parking spaces but be reconfigured to make it safer for pedestrians.
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Safety and functionality are as important as good looks in the city's improvement plan for the Halona Blowhole on Oahu's Ka Iwi coastline.
The lower, or makai, viewing platform will be demolished, and the stairs that lead to it will be taken out, as part of a planned $1.13 million renovation to the oceanside lookout, said Gregory Hee, a city Department of Design and Construction project manager.
The lower viewing area has been closed for some time, Hee said.
Removing the lower observation deck is intended to make it more difficult for anyone to get to the rocks where the blowhole is located, Hee said.
The blowhole features a spout of ocean water that spews up from shoreline rocks when wave conditions are right. Tourists often make a point to stop there for photos when making circle-island tours.
The blowhole has proved deadly, however, when people get too close.
An 18-year-old Los Angeles man drowned after being sucked into the blowhole on June 30, 2002.
Observers said Daniel Dick ignored bystanders' warnings to stay away from the blowhole and was straddling the hole, peering into it when a blast of water lifted him into the air then dropped him in the hole. Dick's body was not retrieved until 20 hours later.
Before that accident, it had been 16 years since someone had died at the location.
While the city's renovation hopes to make the blowhole itself less accessible, it will increase access to the upper viewing platform by adding a wheelchair ramp, Hee said.
And the view to the blowhole below will be improved by lowering the rock wall on the ocean side and installing stainless steel safety railings, Hee said.
The upper viewing area will be partially torn out, to replace rusted iron supports, but will be rebuilt to the same size, Hee said. The platforms were originally built in the 1950s, he said.
Other changes will include landscaping as part of a parking lot renovation that is supposed to make traffic flow better and be safer for pedestrians, Hee said. The new design will have buses park right next to a sidewalk, instead of forcing passengers to traverse the parking lot as they do now, he said.
The number of parking spaces -- 37 regular stalls, four accessible stalls and two bus stalls -- will remain the same, and a new entrance sign will be added.
The city will seek bids later this year and expects to start construction on the project in early 2008. City officials will ask that the contractor try to stage work so that portions of the blowhole parking lot can be open during much of the six- to nine-month job, Hee said.
Checks of historical records show that the city does not expect to encounter any Hawaiian artifacts, he said.
FIX-UP AT A GLANCE:
» Demolish and remove lower viewing area.
» Enhance upper viewing area with handicapped access, platform repairs and new railings.
» Reconfigure parking lot.
» Estimated construction time: six to nine months
» Start date: early 2008
For more information
» Plans for the Halona Blowhole renovations can be seen at the city Department of Planning and Permitting Office, 650 S. King St., 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.
» A public hearing for the major special management area use permit will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at Koko Head District Park, 423 Kaumakani St. For information on submitting written testimony on the project, contact Lin Wong at 768-8033.