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Downed tower will take months to replace


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A navigational tower that fell across Ala Moana Boulevard on Sunday is expected to take up to six months to replace, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

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The Coast Guard says it will take about 3 months to replace a navigational tower that helps mariners safely enter Kewalo Basin after a van crashed into the 50-foot tower at the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Ward Avenue last night and knocked it down.

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The tower, which is called the Kewalo Basin entrance rear range light, was built in 1961 to help guide mariners into the channel.

The 69-foot tower made of galvanized pipe fell after a minivan veered off Ala Moana and struck it. Two people in the van were hurt in the accident, but their injuries weren't serious.

The tower was used by mariners as a navigational tool. From a distance, mariners would line up the tower and a 58-foot tower called the Kewalo Basin entrance front range light to determine whether they are correctly positioned to enter the channel. The second tower is next to Fisherman's Wharf.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen said the tower is inspected every two years. It was found to be in good order in its last inspection on May 12. Replacing the tower is expected to cost about $200,000 to $300,000.

Coast Guard officials notified mariners via radio yesterday morning to be cautious while entering Kewalo Basin.

“;We're asking them to go slower and transit safely,”; said Titchen.

Until the tower is replaced, mariners, especially those who sail at night, will have to rely on the lit red-and green-colored buoys at the channel's entrance and global positioning systems. Mariners who normally use the channel already are familiar with the area, said Titchen.

Capt. Kelly Faulkner of the Royal Hawaiian Catamaran based at Kewalo Basin said it won't be a huge challenge to maneuver into the channel for those familiar with the harbor but might be for those unfamiliar with the area.

Still, Faulkner, who has been operating the catamaran for the past five years, said every navigational tool is helpful to help lead mariners into the harbor.

“;I try to utilize everything available to make sure I'm in the correct position,”; said Faulkner, noting that GPS isn't always accurate.