Japanese visitors Keiko Yukawa, left, and Ritsuko Kaihatsu enjoyed the view of Honolulu Harbor from Aloha Tower when it reopened in June 2002.

Aloha Tower closes
to fix ceiling

A state official says concrete chips
"the size of cookies" are falling near
the observation deck

The Aloha Tower observation deck, a popular tourist attraction, will be closed to the public at least until the end of the summer while repairs are being made to its concrete ceiling.

Scott Ishikawa, information director of the state Department of Transportation, said concrete chips -- some "the size of cookies" -- fell from the ceiling earlier this week at the entrance to the elevators on the 10th-floor observation deck, the tower's highest floor.

Most of them were "little chips," but some were 2 or 3 inches in diameter, he added.

"No one was hurt, but we don't want anything falling on someone's head," and because of the liability involved, he said.

Estimates of the repair work are still being made, but it does not look as if there was any major structural damage, Ishikawa said.

He said the probable cause was leakage from water tanks that used to be above the decks.

"In the old days," before water could be pumped up the 184-foot building, the water tanks were there for fire prevention usage.

Before the tanks were removed, some of the water leaked out and corroded some steel and concrete, he said.

Normally, it would take until the end of the year to procure the design and funds to do the work, but the department will try to speed up the process since the tower is a popular tourist attraction, Ishikawa said.

Repairs should take at least three months, he said.

The landmark tower was closed for two years of renovations and reopened in April 1999.

Once the tallest building in Hawaii, it was built in 1926 to greet ships. The tower is topped by a 40-foot flagstaff.

The state Harbors Division also has offices on the ninth floor.


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