City to remove ‘black noodle’ from the Ala Wai

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The big black noodle and the Ala Wai serpent are just two of the many names given to a huge pipe in the Ala Wai Canal.

After seven years and $40 million, the eyesore is finally being removed.

Oahu residents will never forget the spring of 2006 when there were 40 days and 40 nights of rain.

“It was a disaster,” Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chair Robert Finley said.

The source of the disaster was a force main on Kaiolu Street that had burst, resulting in tons of raw sewage being pumped into the Ala Wai Canal.

“We never want that to happen again. It became national news, it was reported on morning shows and it really impacted tourism and it affected the health and safety of residents and our visitors alike,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The City responded to the emergency by installing a massive bypass pipe. Once that was completed, engineers installed a new force main line.

“The redundancy, that if it does happen again, we can shut down the pipe immediately and divert the sewage into this second pipe. That’s why we did it,” Mayor Caldwell said.

The bypass line is no longer needed. Starting July 15, more than 5,100 feet of piping will be removed.

“It’s going to be flushed out. All the sewage and wastewater will be put into a manhole. Once that happens, cranes will put it off onto land. It will be cut in segments by chainsaw, hauled away on trucks to a yard where it will be reused in some other way,” Mayor Caldwell said.

The pipe has had its share of embarrassing moments. In 2012, gas somehow got into the line and the pipe unexpectedly resurfaced.

“The community is very excited to see this black pipe go away, but we’re more excited to see this project completed,” Finely said.

“That whole idea behind this project is that won’t happen again. If the situation where a pipeline breaks, they can divert the sewage into alternate pipeline,” Waikiki Improvement Association President Rick Egged said.

The removal will take about 45 days. The City hopes to minimize disruptions.

“If there are safety issues during the removal, we’ll provide advance notice and of course if that happens, we have to maybe cone off part of the canal or whatever we need to do to keep the keep the job safe,” Department of Design and Construction Director Chris Takashige said.

Once the pipe is removed, the City will restore the area along the Ala Wai with a new bike path and even a dog park.

“The good news is that we were able to do it all in seven years with minimal disruption to our No. 1 visitor industry and there was some visual impact from time-to-time, but it’s going to be all better now,” Mayor Caldwell said.

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