Renewed plans to build bridge across Ala Wai Canal will involve community input

It’s a project that’s been talked about for decades, and now plans are once again moving forward to build another bridge across the Ala Wai Canal.

When it was first brought up in 1954, the plan was to make it a bridge for vehicles to drive over.

Wes Frysztacki, director of the city Department of Transportation Services, said it was met with strong opposition.

Within the last decade, however, talks have turned to building a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the canal.

While the plan isn’t set in stone, city officials want to hear from the public on next steps.

“There is a reason why it hasn’t happened for decades. You can’t just go to the community once. You just can’t give them three ideas. They have to be involved in the very beginning of the process,” explained Frysztacki.

One thing the city knows for sure is a ballpark figure for how much it’s going to cost to build the bridge: $5 million to $10 million.

Not everyone agrees on the type of bridge that should be built. Councilman Trevor Ozawa says the city should go back to the original plan from the ’50s.

“Even though it’s been met with opposition for the last couple decades for a vehicular bridge, I think we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to being opposed to that idea,” he said. “We need to look at the amount of growth in Waikiki. This is the world we live in now. I can tell you Waikiki is so dense, right now there’s no real exit through the middle of Waikiki.”

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi countered, “If you go to the other side of the Ala Wai, they have always opposed this idea.”

“The people on the McCully side have been concerned with construction, of people perhaps parking in their neighborhoods and walking into Waikiki,” added Frysztacki.

KHON2 spoke to a few residents to get their reactions.

“I would rather see a pedestrian-only bridge. There’s not many places to park. There’d be a lot of construction which I wouldn’t want to deal with,” said Moiliili resident Freddie Wheeler.

“It’s very convenient for us who live in Waikiki. We don’t have a car. We ride the bus, so you just walk across the bridge,” said Waikiki resident Saw Ching.

The city says it will once again explore the possibility of building a bridge for vehicles.

The location also isn’t set, but one of the options is to connect University Avenue, go across the Ala Wai and into Waikiki.

Frysztacki says the city is scoping out the scene, looking into how to pay for the bridge, and will engage the community every step of the way.

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