The City and County of Honolulu is reviving a plan to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Ala Wai Canal. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The City’s Department of Transportation Services will be securing funding to plan and design a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Ala Wai Canal. DTS Director, Wes Frysztacki, says it will be a community-driven project.
“We’re aware that it has both strong supporters and strong opponents but it has enough technical merit that we believe it should be investigated in a serious manner.”
A location, style or other details have not been determined. But the study will include the feasibility of building a vehicular bridge at the urging of City Councilmember Trevor Ozawa.
“The amount of growth we’ve had in Waikiki? Show me a study. Show me analytics that show that a pedestrian bridge without the opportunity to even carry a car is better than the alternative which I would say we need to look at.”
Ron Lockwood served as chair of the McCully-Mo’ili’ili Neighborhood Board for nearly 3 decades. He left the board this year but says he opposed the Ala Wai bridge every time it was brought up and is still against it now because of increased traffic congestion.
“Even with bicycles now we’re looking at twice a day there’s over 700 extra cars coming in, dropping off children from the ages of 6 to 11. That would be I’olani School and Ala Wai Elementary School. And its just not a good mixture with all those cars coming in and bicycles.”
Lockwood also says the Ala Wai Canal is protected under the National Historic Preservation Act and erecting a bridge will be difficult, if not impossible.
“One of the fears is, ‘Yeah. We’ll start with a pedestrian bridge.’ But then people will go, ‘We need another exit out of Waikiki for emergencies.’ So now we need a 4 lane bridge.”
Across the Ala Wai Canal, Robert Finley has chaired the Waikiki Neighborhood Board for 16 years and is an advocate for residents living there.
“We’ve been supporting it for a long time. It’s the logical answer to our people who live in 2-story, 3-story walk-ups, that when we have a Tsunami alert, the Ala Wai becomes just totally clogged and they cannot get out. Some of them race to a hotel but the hotels are only obligated to shelter their employees and their guests.”
Meanwhile, Hawai’i Bicycling League executive director, Chad Taniguchi, says an Ala Wai Bridge is long overdue.
“Lot of people go to U.H. live in Waikiki and lot of people live Mo’ili’ili and McCully work in Waikiki. So it should be built, people are gonna use it and it can be beautiful, iconic bridges that can be built. And anytime you have a bridge on the waterway, it’s gonna be nice.”
DTS Director Frysztacki would like to start meeting with Neighborhood Boards and community groups starting in the Fall.
“Normally, these bridges for that amount of span, I believe it’s over 200 feet, it will cost no less than $5-million and no more than $10-million. But if you want to get into certain materials or maybe a covered bridge or certain amenities it could be up to 13 or 14 million.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.