HANAUMA BAY (HawaiiNewsNow) - A popular tourist attraction in East Oahu won't be welcoming any visitors until Friday. Tuesday was the first day of a three-day emergency project to address potential rockfall hazards at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
The work comes after the city last year hired a consultant to do a study on the hillside.
Using large metal picks to break up loose rocks and occasionally a shoe to send the debris down, crews worked to stabilize three separate sections of the slope above the access road to popular visitor destination Hanauma Bay.
"In the three areas, there's about 20 outcrops of rocks that need to be mitigated," Lori Kahikina, city Department of Design and Construction deputy director, said.
The consultant tasked with examining the rock formations overlooking the bay discovered the potentially-hazardous conditions during its initial analysis. The city says it hired Hi-Tech Rockfall Construction to attack the problem areas under a $25,000 emergency procurement.
"I spoke with the contractors. They said, well, they can do it in two days," Gary Cabato, city Department of Parks and Recreation director, said. "I said, well, I'm going to give you three days because you won't know until you get up there."
The park is normally closed on Tuesdays. It will remain shut down Wednesday and Thursday for the work.
"We notified Hawaii Visitors (and Convention) Bureau, Hawaii Transportation Association, all the schools that had venues here," Cabato said. "We notified the lifeguard. We notified (the city Department of) Enterprise Services because of the concession contracts."
About 59,000 people a month use the access road to get down to the bay. That's more than 700,000 park users a year.
City officials say they wanted to be pro-active in commissioning the hillside study.
"Earlier this year, there was a rock fall that occurred along the pathway. Nobody was injured," Kahikina said. "But we were already in contract. Our consultants were already here doing the field work."
The city says other areas of concern may be identified as the work progresses.