Completion of Ala Moana Boulevard project taking longer than expected

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The Ala Moana Boulevard beautification project, which started in February 2011, is taking longer than expected.

As part of the project, dozens of new light poles are being installed from Downtown to Waikiki.

The State Department of Transportation has been giving Ala Moana Boulevard a makeover to make it look more beautiful, especially since it’s the route many tourists take.

So it’s been out with the old poles and above-ground wires, and in with the new decorative poles and underground wires.

“The vast majority of it is completed, and I think everyone can see it’s a nice upgrade. The price has gone up. Originally it was about $37M, and now it’s approximately $40M,” DOT Spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said.

But it’s still mostly paid for with approximately 73% federal funds, 20% state dollars, and utility companies will kick in the final 7%.

The project started in February 2011, and was expected to be finished by the beginning of this year, but that didn’t happen.

“It’s taking a little longer than they thought because they hit conditions that they didn’t anticipate. In the Ward area, they hit the ground water table sooner than they had anticipated, so they’re having to microtunnel now, and then they’ll put in the conduits so that the cables can be run through there,” Sluyter said.

Crews are also doing similar work underground in Waikiki, and should be finished by December.

While the work in the Ward area should be finished by this time next year.

“I think it’s going to be nice. If you look behind you, you see all those wires and I can just imagine it without the wires.  It’s going to look beautiful,” Cutter Mazda Sales Consultant David Taich said.

But, you may have noticed that the new light poles aren’t exactly in a straight line.

“There are two things going on there. There’s a federal requirement where we have to have the poles 24 inches from the curb now, and that’s for safety. But then there’s also a lot of underground utilities in the area so the contractor really had to pick and choose where they could place the poles. Unfortunately it is not in a straight line but it is ADA compliant, which is the most important thing,” Sluyter said.

And after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Crews have mostly worked on this project during the night. But that’ll change in a few months, when the H-1 Freeway rehab project starts.

The DOT doesn’t want to have two major corridors in the same area closed at night, so crews will start working on Ala Moana Boulevard during the daytime instead, and that’ll likely affect traffic in the Ward area.

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