Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Ala Wai work cramps
space at Magic Island

Question: My friends and I jog at Ala Moana Park several times a week after work and park our cars in the Magic Island parking lot. The contractor doing the dredging of Ala Wai Canal has set up a chainlink-fenced compound in the lot. The compound not only has cut into the parking spaces, it also has cut off the road that ran along the Diamond Head side of the water. The contractor has created a temporary detour road through the old parking spaces which is very poorly marked, confusing and unsafe. Also, the sidewalk has been routed around the fence, forcing pedestrians and joggers to go around blind corners. The lane markings are confusing for motorists making their way around this poorly thought-out traffic pattern, and the drivers are forced to contend with pedestrians coming around the fence corners and cars weaving around light poles, tree curbs, other cars, etc. There was a one-car accident recently, and my friends and I predict there will be more. Also, because the temporary driveway was not marked as a no-parking area, we see cars parking there every day, creating a very hazardous situation. The roadway should be marked off very clearly, and the temporary driveway should be made one-way (the cars would enter or exit through the existing Ewa driveway). Could you please contact the city to correct the problem?

Answer: We contacted the city Department of Parks & Recreation, since Magic Island is under its jurisdiction.

"It's not the best situation in the world," acknowledged Parks Director William Balfour, but he says that "under the circumstances, I think we did the best we could."

Basically, park-goers just have to be more careful and pay closer attention when navigating that area because it's just not business as usual, he said.

The city, working with Island Marine and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, allowed the contractor to use part of the parking lot as a work area, he said. Originally, almost 100 parking spaces were to be taken away, but "we squeezed them down and squeezed them down," Balfour said. In the end, fewer than 20 spaces were temporarily lost, he said.

Meanwhile, a power hookup that had to be placed in a certain area resulted in a disruption in the flow of traffic.

"We allowed them to hook up to our power and put a meter on it," Balfour said, "otherwise it would have cost $75,000 to $80,000 to hook up. So we saved the state, the contractor and the taxpayers money."

He said he understands your frustration about the "Rube Goldberg arrangement," but he hopes you also can understand the situation.

"There are some inconveniences," he said, "but in the big picture, we save the taxpayer a lot of money, and we're getting the Ala Wai dredged."

Asked about your safety concerns, Balfour said, "People have to be a little bit more careful. ... It's like driving down the street -- you get blocked off, there's contraflow, detours ..."

The project, originally estimated to take 2 1/2 years to complete, is now expected to be completed in about a year and a half.

Useful phone numbers

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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