Sewer repairs burdened businesses on Kapiolani


POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2008

Improvements to the aging sewer and water lines on Kapiolani Boulevard are almost done, but some area businesses that endured noise, traffic and foul odors remain frustrated that the project drove away customers.





Sewer upgrades

        The Kapiolani Water & Sewer System Improvements Project


» Installation of old sewer lines: 1923


» Installation of old water mains: 1935


» Project cost: $29 million


» Start date: July 2006


» Estimated completion date: March 2009



“;My customers shied away from coming to this area,”; said Budi Staven, owner of the Blue Buddha, a clothing store that suffered a 20 percent drop in sales.

The Kapiolani Boulevard Water & Sewer System Improvements Project, a joint effort between the city and the Board of Water Supply, is slated to be completed in March. The $29 million project involved installation of a new 36-inch sewer main under Kamakee Street and under Kapiolani Boulevard down to Kalakaua Avenue. The project also involved installation of a new 12-inch water main under Kapiolani Boulevard from Ward to Kalakaua avenues. A 12-inch water main also replaced an aging line on Atkinson Drive.

Most of the sewer and waterline work is completed, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday. Sewer work on Kalakaua Avenue is ongoing and is slated to be completed by Thanksgiving. Re-pavement work is also expected to be completed before the holiday season. A portion of Kapiolani Boulevard has already been repaved from Ward Avenue to Kamakee Street. As of last night, crew members were to complete re-pavement work up to Keeaumoku Street.

Work will temporarily stop during the holiday season and restart in January for re-striping.

Officials said the new water main is expected to last for 35 to 50 years, while the sewer line is expected to last up to 100 years, depending on soil conditions. The aging water main was last installed in 1935, while the sewer lines were last installed in 1923.

While the project was necessary, Nathan Yoshioka, owner of Pro Am Golf Shop on Kapiolani Boulevard, said he hoped the city would have provided some type of compensation. Yoshioka, who operated the store for 18 years, said, “;We're paying city taxes.”;

“;The construction companies are making money, and we're losing. That's not fair,”; he added. Yoshioka estimated his business suffered a 10 percent drop in sales.

Traffic and certain parts of the street that were coned off inconvenienced customers. Rehabilitation work on the main thoroughfare is believed to have contributed to the closure of Hong Kong Orchid Cafe.

Brian Lum of Engineers Surveyors Hawaii Inc., a firm hired to oversee the project, said while he understands the impact the project had on surrounding businesses, the project was necessary to prevent future water main breaks. At least 10 water main breaks occurred while contractors installed new lines. The breaks, Lum said, were not caused by construction, but the aging lines. “;The system was so old,”; he said.

Some business owners like Antoine Spinelli, 30-year owner of the hair salon Bottega Antoine, took the improvement work in stride.

“;It's a job that needs to be done, had to be done,”; Spinelli said. Without the upgrades, he said, more people would suffer if more water breaks occurred. “;Wouldn't that be worse than being slightly inconvenienced and getting the job done?”; he asked.

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