9/11 security keeps bike trail detour in place
: There is an elaborate "Pacific Fleet Command Boat House" that blocks the Pearl City Bicycle Trail near Aloha Stadium. Until Sept. 11, 2001, the gates to the boathouse were open so one could pass through to the Arizona Memorial and Hickam. Now we have to bicycle up to Kamehameha Highway, cross a busy ramp and also cross the Ford Island Bridge entrance. To say that it is a dangerous detour is an understatement. The boat- house appears to house a pleasure craft and buildings there seem designed for entertaining, not military operations. If the Navy does not intend to reopen the gates, why not build a sidewalk/bicycle trail on the mauka side to at least let travelers pass by?
Answer: The "detour" you describe is actually the compromise the city Department of Transportation Services decided is the best alternate route, at least for now.
The driveway to the Navy's boathouse at Pearl Harbor, closed for security reasons since 9/11, will remain closed "for the foreseeable future," said Terri Kojima, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawaii.
"We are supportive of a safe and publicly accessible bicycle route," Kojima said, and to that end the Navy provided the city the option this past spring of an alternative route around the boathouse.
However, "from a planning and engineering perspective," developing that alternative route is not economically feasible, said Melvin Kaku, city transportation director. "We didn't, at this particular stage, feel that to spend half a million dollars on one project was very prudent."
We first explained the situation regarding the boathouse and bike path in 2002 ("Kokua Line," June 27, 2002), when a Navy spokeswoman said vessels in the boathouse are used for official business only and that "Navy regulations strictly prohibit the(ir) use for 'pleasure.'"
Kojima further explained that the boathouse supports military watercraft on official business in Pearl Harbor.
"We regret the inconvenience," she said, noting that "many of the people who use the Pearl City bike path are sailors, their families and civilian employees of the Navy."
Kojima said the Navy spent more than $473,000 earlier this year to clear the mangroves around the Aiea Bay State Recreation Area up to the boathouse, enhancing safety and security while also providing a safer area for bikers and joggers.
As it turned out, the Navy's mangrove-clearing, as well as the city's regular maintenance, revealed a 3- to 4-foot-wide path that allows bikers to bypass the locked Navy gates, taking them onto Kamehameha Highway in the route you described, Kaku said.
The crossover is via a crosswalk, he said, which then takes bikers along the state's approved bikeway along Kamehameha.
This pathway already was in existence "but probably not very visible, so during our maintenance activities, we embellished it to the point where it's an accepted pathway now," he said.
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