A boat load of federal stimulus money is sailing into Honolulu Harbor. The money will keep jobs afloat and pay for repairs at Pier 29.
The 12 acres at Pier 29 are supposed to be used as a container yard able to handle the weight of heavy shipments coming to Hawaii. But a couple years ago the pavement began to crumble under the weight of containers and other large cargo.
"We basically had to shut this pier down, and that really put a devastating strain on our shipping industry because then we had to squeeze in a lot of people into a very tight space. It's created some operational inefficiencies. It's increased the cost to do business," said state transportation director Brennon Morioka.
Friday a groundbreaking ceremony was held, and in October construction will begin.
The black-top will be torn up and replaced by more durable concrete.
New drain and sewer lines will be installed. New lights will be put up. And contaminated soil will be carted away.
The work will cost an estimated $31 million. As much as $24.5 million, or 77.7%, will be stimulus money from the federal government. The rest will come from the state.
"This keeps both people employed and brings people back into the company like laborers, carpenters, masons. It's a great project," said Kelvin Osborne, vice president in charge of the Hawaii region for Watts Constructors, which will be doing the work.
Osborne said his company will be able to keep about 150 people employed as a direct result of the project.
"Also I think it's upwards of about 300 or 400 indirect jobs for people delivering material, accountants, engineers and just the long term benefits of having this. You are going to have a harbor that's going to be much more effective and efficient and hopefully that reduces the cost to do business here in Hawaii," said state transportation director Brennon Morioka.
The work is scheduled to be finished in September of 2012.