Collapse of historical landmarks at popular hiking trail prompts state to take action

Historical structures that date back to before World War II have become so dangerous that the state had to take action.

“We basically had what you would call an emergency situation and we had to do something right away,” said Alan Carpenter, assistant administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks.

If you’ve ever hiked to the top of the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, you’ll likely have seen the structures Carpenter is talking about.

Many people refer to them as pillboxes or bunkers, but the state says they are actually fire control stations, built before World War II and they’ve have seen better days.

“They are really popular for people to take photos from,” said Carpenter.

But they aren’t the safest structures to be climbing on. Signs are posted letting people know about the dangers.

Recently, the structures on the trail partially collapsed.

“We actually caught this while it was collapsing and knowing that people use it frequently, we decided in the interest of public safety do a little mitigation and make it safe for visitation,” said Carpenter. “They cut the supports and lowered it so we have the same military features there, but the roofs are six inches lower and they are safer and secure now.”

With the structures being so old, DLNR had to consult with the State Historic Preservation Division before work could begin.

“They came out and did a complete documentation of the structures before we altered them, which you always want to do because they are historic features,” explained Carpenter. “We have very strong protective laws for our protective sites, and there is a process. We have to consult with them before to make any alterations to a site.”

While the Makapuu structures were collapsed by the DLNR, the structures on the Lanikai Pillbox Trail could be repaired. The state says consultants have provided repair options and cost estimates.

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