A car parallel-parked along Ala Wai yesterday.

Ala Wai face
lift on the way

Some residents are concerned
about potential traffic snarls that
could come with construction


City Department of Planning and Permitting Director Eric Crispin will deliver a presentation tomorrow on the Ala Wai project at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board's monthly meeting.

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Waikiki Community Center, 310 Paoakalani Ave.

Construction will start next month on the city's $2.4 million Ala Wai Boulevard revamping project, which includes installation of a bike path and landscape hubs at the cost of about 60 parking spaces.

Some residents oppose the project, saying it will worsen Waikiki traffic already slowed by work on a $19 million Kuhio Avenue project under way since late February.

"It's such a mess," said Dolores Cook, a Waikiki Neighborhood Board member who lives on Ala Wai. "People have no access to roads right now. Everywhere you turn there's construction."

City Department of Planning and Permitting Director Eric Crispin will deliver a presentation on the Ala Wai project at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board's 7 p.m. meeting tomorrow at the Waikiki Community Center on Paoakalani Avenue.

Board Chairman Robert Finley said he is hoping for a good turnout, as the city "was never clear about what they were going to do."

The Ala Wai work is part of the city's Waikiki beautification plan, which also includes sidewalk widening, lane narrowing and traffic flow changes on Kuhio Avenue.

City Managing Director Ben Lee said construction on the Ala Wai project is expected to last for about five months.

Crews will work during nonpeak traffic hours, likely between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. Construction could also be done on the weekends.

He said motorists should expect sections of the boulevard's far right lane to be closed as the project progresses.

"We're making sure that we coordinate construction work," Lee said. "It's not a very complex project. We hope that it can be completed by November or December."

Patrick Chun, a general manager of the Holiday Surf Apartment-Hotel on Ala Wai, said he expects a traffic nightmare when work on the two construction projects starts to overlap.

"I believe it's Ben Lee's plan to make driving through Waikiki a 20-minute trip," he said. "We've had businesses in this area longer than he's been in politics. ... How are the employees supposed to get into Waikiki?"

Alexander Pogornaya, a Waikiki resident, said the construction "is very inconvenient." And, he added, "it looks strange."

But some back the Ala Wai plan, which is to create a greener, more cyclist-friendly boulevard.

Brian Hann, a member of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board who bikes to work, said a bike lane on Ala Wai is long overdue.

"People in a car, they have safety glass, air bags. They have all the safety conveniences in the world," Hann said. "Without the lines, people (bicyclists) are fending for themselves. It adds one level of safety. It basically states, 'Hey, there's a bicycle riding here.'"

To put in the 5-foot-wide bike lane, crews will narrow the width of the boulevard's parking spaces to a little more than 7 feet from 12 feet. The average car is a little less than 6 feet wide.

"Everybody's trying to look for this magic way to get around," Hann said. "The bike is that magic way, especially during rush hour. When you put a bike lane ... drivers are more aware that a bike may be coming by."

The Ala Wai project extends between the Waikiki Public Library to about 110 feet before the McCully Street bridge, Lee said.

Between 60 and 70 parking spaces are being removed to put in rounded patches for "grass and coconut trees, bright flowers and color," he said.

There are about 250 free parking spaces along the Ala Wai Canal. To balance the loss of parking, the city has designated room for about 40 spaces near a parcel on Aloha Drive that has been purchased by the city and will be converted into a park, Lee said.

"Most people in Waikiki would hate to see that parking eliminated or reduced too much," said Waikiki Neighborhood Board Treasurer Michael Peters. "I think there's been a general consensus (among the board members) that we value the parking along the Ala Wai Canal, and we don't want to see that parking eliminated."

Peters said a majority of those who park along the Ala Wai Canal live nearby. The remainder work in the area, he said.

There is also discussion on whether the city should limit the amount of time people can remain parked along the canal. Proposals for time limits range between four and eight hours, Lee said.

"There are concerns and complaints about people parking all day and all night long," he said, adding that "we want to be fairly reasonable" and allow residents to park cars overnight without worry of being towed.

City & County of Honolulu


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