Tuesday, April 14, 1998

Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
A barge slips under the Ford Island bridge,
which will be dedicated tomorrow.

Bridge opens path to
Ford Island development

The span, nearly a mile long,
officially opens tomorrow

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The nearly one-mile span from Kamehameha Highway to Ford Island becomes a reality tomorrow, one month and a day ahead of schedule after a quarter-century of planning.

The 4,700-foot-long and 46-foot-wide bridge is one of only six concrete floating bridges in the world. Four are located in the Seattle area and one in Canada.

Named after Adm. Bernard "Chick" Clarey, a former Pacific Fleet commander, the $78 million bridge has been a project of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff and constructed by Dillingham-Manson.

Construction began in January 1996. The foundations consist of 24-inch octagonal pre-stressed concrete piles, which the bridge's designer, Parsons Brinckerhoff, said are the largest and the highest load capacity pile size manufactured in Hawaii.

The bridge features a 650-foot-wide drawbridge in the middle for marine traffic.

The 930-foot floating pontoon sections had to be towed from Washington and were installed during the summer of 1997.

The section is drawn by two winches located on the south side of the bridge.

Two transition ramps connect the fixed portion of the bridge with the floating drawspan on pontoons.

The retractable pontoon section, which slides under the Halawa end of the bridge, will create a 650-foot-wide section large enough to allow an aircraft carrier through.

Lt. Pete O'Hara, construction manager, said the Navy plans to open the bridge only three times a year, mainly for maintenance purposes and special occasions, since there are no aircraft carriers berthed at Pearl Harbor.

Within the fixed arched sections of the bridge are openings that are 100 feet wide and 30 feet high.

Stanford Yuen, the Navy's deputy engineer, said the bridge will move a $500 million Ford Island development plan closer to reality. The plan envisions 500 homes for Navy personnel, a learning center, a Navy museum and a military hotel to be built on the 450-acre island over the next decade.

A 1967 Navy study recommended three methods: a bridge, a tunnel and a rubble-filled causeway.

A $25 million causeway proposal was included in the 1976 military construction budget but was never carried out because it was too expensive.

Other proposals included: a steel swinging-gate bridge, a hinged concrete bridge, a fixed causeway, a sunken tube tunnel, an elevated bridge, a vertical-lift bridge and a bascule bridge.

But cost always proved to be a major factor, until Sen. Daniel Inouye drafted special legislation authorizing the Navy to sell Pearl City properties in return for funds to build the bridge.

He will be the keynote speaker at tomorrow morning's dedication ceremonies.

In 1991, the city and the Navy reached an agreement where the city would pay $109 million for Navy land at Manana and Pearl City junction. Those funds were then used to build the bridge and replacement warehouses.

Navy opens island for
historic tour



Ford Island, normally accessible only to military personnel and dependents, will be open to the public for a brief period tomorrow afternoon.

Bus tours will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. Tour buses will leave from the Ford Island ferry landing, located between the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center and USS Bowfin Museum. Each tour will last 40 minutes and include World War II air raid shelters, the old naval air station runway in the middle of the island, and the USS Utah Memorial.

The new Ford Island bridge will not be open to the public.

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